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Nesbians at the Neptune: Nina Nesbitt steals the show on opening night

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Photo by Kylin Brown
Photo by Kylin Brown

Scottish songstress Nina Nesbitt introduced herself to Seattle's Neptune Theatre stage with only her voice, a guitar, and keys last week, delighting the audience with penetratingly heartfelt melodies. Opening for English X Factor star James Arthur's North American tour, Nesbitt offered the perfect introduction to a sentimental night of love-letter pop.

Nesbitt, who first started writing and producing her own music as a young teenager, commenced the show with songs from her most recent album, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change & The Flowers Will Fall from 2019. The 27-year-old's soulful vocals opened up like an envelope, and the whole audience was invited into her diary, her burn book, and her heart.

Sharing her nostalgia for live performances, charming banter, and jokes about ultra-expressive "hecklers," the artist's between-song charisma shined just as bright as her independent talent on the Neptune stage.

Nesbitt, who first entered my world as a Tumblr, side-bangs girlfriend in Ed Sheeran's 2012 "Drunk" music video (weren't we all UK-obsessed once?), looked entirely reborn. Donning a purple dress coat with black lace fingerless gloves — think: the pixie femme who moved to Bellingham for college — she filled the room with cool-girl energy as she sang.

Through a series of breakup bops and self-love anthems, Nesbitt's set enlivened the majority-female audience, regardless of partner status. Addressing her viral hit "Loyal to Me" to "anyone who has ever dealt with a fuckboy," the singer-songwriter had the whole floor active. "If he ain't tagging you on the 'Gram / Take your heart and turn around while you still can," she lilted over staccato guitar strums. "And tell him, tell him, tell him, tell him / I got somewhere else to be."

Photo by Kylin Brown  

After enamoring the audience with her boldness, Nesbitt switched over to piano to play the tragic, ghostly "Is it Really Me You're Missing." From then on, notes to lost lovers and relationships in turmoil went straight for the hearts of the audience.

Toward the end of the set, she performed a song released the day prior. "Dinner Table" is a departure from Nesbitt's usual love songs — well, romantic love, that is — as the track details the singer's admiration for her mother and grandmother, taking the listener through time to meet all three generations of women in small-town Scotland. Her electrifying voice riffed right up the balcony during the slow-churning song, while the tamer half of the audience cried into their masks.

Seattle marked the first stop of Arthur and Nesbitt's tour, so the artists were fresh off a London flight, like the Beatles. Prior to performing, Nesbitt ignored her jet lag and spent the afternoon out on the town. Taking recommendations from local fans via Instagram poll, she found herself up and down the University District's "Ave," even snagging her stage outfit for the night from Red Light Vintage & Costume. Before the pandemic, Nesbitt had just toured North America for the first time in support of her album.

Nesbitt has become a fierce LGBTQ ally over the years, performing at Pride events across the UK, and encouraging fans to express their true selves through her music and online. Her hit "Colder" was featured on Billboard's selective "LGBTQ+ and allied artists" Pride playlist in January 2019.

Though her fans are called "Nesbians," Nina has not discussed her own sexuality beyond the men she has dated and the times she's thoroughly enjoyed being single in between. I spoke with her after the show to see if she had a quick word for readers of the SGN.

"Sending my love to all of my LGBTQ fans," she said with cheer. "I hope you enjoy Pride month, and I love you all very much!"

Nina Nesbitt and James Arthur will wrap up their North American tour in NYC on May 20. You can find her @ninanesbitt on Twitter and Instagram, and stream her music on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.