The British crooner NAO graced us in Atlanta with her distinct vocals,dance moves, and personality on Thursday night at Masquerade. NAO has been known to touch her listeners spirits through her soulful and transcendent R&B tracks accompanied by mystical lyrics that are beyond relatable.
Xavier Omar,an artist that has gained notoriety from his hit songs such as “Easy” which was featured on the hit HBO show Insecure was the opener of the night . Xavier was able to capture the audience from the very beginning with his amazing voice. Xavier’s most popular and well known song “Blind Man” was his finale and the audience eagerly sang along . Xavier was an amazing opening performer and he only furthered the crowd’s excitement as they awaited NAO.
NAO’s performance began with lots of movement in the middle of the crowd and suddenly emerging in neon orange and white, surrounded by security and standing on a small platform , was NAO. Just as everyone in the audience realizes who it was that was causing all the commotion, a spotlight is cast on NAO and the first notes of “Another Lifetime” began. Everyone responded by exuberantly singing along as NAO sang to them in the middle of the audience. It was a celestial scene, and as soon as she finished the song and walked up to the stage, we all knew we were in for an unbelievable ride.
Once onstage NAO came alive. She had us all in a trance and completely absorbed in every moment – even when she started talking after the third song “Make It Out Alive” . She had so much emotion as she spoke, and the most apparent emotion she conveyed was humility. She thanked us for coming, listening to her, and sending so much energy her way, when in reality she was giving energy to us.
As the show continued NAO performed songs that are fan favorites like“Gabriel” and “Orbit” . When she sang “Orbit” it was otherworldly and not just because it is this powerful and meaningful tune, but her voice was able to emote something incredible. That emotion behind the song had most of us awestruck, and that wasn’t the last time. Prior to performing “Inhale Exhale” , which was remixed with D’Angelo’s “Brown Sugar”, NAO explained that it came from D’Angelo’s music influencing her when she first started out as a singer-songwriter. The mash-up of the two songs was phenomenal and beyond any expectation anyone could’ve had of NAO’s rendition of this R&B classic.
At one point the meaning behind the name Saturn was revealed. NAO referenced the basics of astrology by paraphrasing how when your born Saturn is in a specific position and it doesn’t go back to that position again until you’re thirty, and a couple years before you turn thirty you start to feel unsettled and unsure about relationships, jobs, and the structure of your life. NAO is now thirty , but before then she was going through all of that- hence the name Saturn. Then she performed the title song “Saturn” ,and everyone was utterly entranced.
Another memorable aspect of NAO’s performance is that she didn’t just dance and perform, but she also used props. During a couple of songs including “Adore” she used a fan, during “Make it Out Alive” she held up an iconic white balloon which has been associated with the album, and during “Girlfriend” she had a silk wrap, and with the help of fans blowing on stage, she was able to manipulate it in the air while she sang and dance.
When the concert ended with “Firefly” it almost felt like the beginning of the show all over again with how energetic and enthralled the audience was, and of course everyone demanded an encore, and the double encore was worth the wait. NAO performed a fan favorites “Drive and Connect” and “Bad Blood.”
All in all NAO sang not just as well as she does on her albums, but even better. As a fan I can confidently say that the performance left me feeling rejuvenated and full , and I couldn’t have asked for a better performance. NAO delivered a performance of a lifetime from the visuals to her overall stage presence. The mixture of her songs from from her debut album For All We Know in addition to the songs from Saturn was utter perfection that I won’t forget. I know everyone in the audience feels the exact same way, and for that to be the way to end US leg of the “Saturn Tour” , I’d say it was pretty spectacular way to finish.
Here are the remaining tour dates: