Gracing the stage of The Bodega for the first time as a solo artist, following the release of her debut record Bauhaus, L’Appartamento, Julia Bardo delivered an intimate and heartfelt performance to the plucky few who came to see her. Freya Martin reviews.
Formerly a founding member of techno/post-punk outfit Working Men’s Club, Bardo has since been ploughing her own, very different furrow as an inimitable solo entity, creating a fusion of alt-rock and balladry with a hint of folk thrown in. Beginning her set with album opener The Most, Bardo demonstrates how it is possible to be both subdued and energetic, singing of her complete devotion to her lover with both sadness and joy, yet still retaining her characteristic sensitivity. It’s Okay (To Not Be Okay) follows this, another vulnerable semi-ballad which again showcases Bardo as a genre-bending song-writer, along with her skill at extracting and examining her emotions.
No Feeling, one of the standout tracks from Bauhaus, L’Appartamento, was as energetic as is possible for a song exploring feelings of emptiness and quiet disarray. The various guitar parts interweaved in a jangly riff and allowed the space for a subtle boogie for us in the audience. Another highlight was the performance of Impossible, a heart-on-sleeve account of finding a place in world as an individual, a feeling of particular poignance to Bardo who relocated from Brescia, Italy to Manchester in pursuit of more musical freedom. Both pain and hope are elicited in this track, as Bardo grapples with her new, foreign identity while proudly reasserting her Italian roots, with a spoken word passage in her native tongue. As Bardo herself said during the release of the album, “These days I want to scream to the world, “Sono Italiana!”…I am an Italian woman, I am who I am, and I don’t need to explain myself.”
This movement towards acceptance and her growth as a solo artist is clear in both the maturity of the tracks on Bauhaus, L’Appartamento, and also in her confidence and ability on stage. Bardo runs though the bulk of her album with effortless grace, gliding from the searching confusion and heartfelt melody of Love Out of Control to the cheerful indignance of Do This To Me, as well as including a surprisingly beautiful cover of Pixies’ Gigantic to round off the set.
''Bardo and her band delivered a magnificent and honest set''
There was a slight forbearance in Bardo’s delivery, and though she was keen to pin this on the lethargic effect of a classic Nottingham pub roast pre-show, the surprisingly sparse crowd in attendance may have contributed somewhat. Perhaps a product of a Sunday night gig in a small-ish venue from a small-ish band with minimal fanfare, the disappointing paucity of people would have sucked the energy from even the most seasoned performer. Nevertheless, Bardo and her band delivered a magnificent and honest set. Indeed, apart from a slightly detectable level of restraint, Bardo seemed almost entirely unaffected by the size of the audience, which generated some hefty applause regardless, and it was clear that all those who were in attendance were there for the music and eager to see this up-and-coming songstress in the flesh.
Julia Bardo is a musician to look out for, deserving to join the ranks of those who started off with a lowkey show at The Bodega and have since progressed to sell out shows at Rock City and beyond (I’m looking at you, Sports Team). It was a crying shame that the turnout for this fledgling artist was lower than she ought to have had, but nevertheless this does not retract from the quality of her performance and the calibre of her music.
Written by: Freya Martin
Edited by: Amrit Virdi