All weekend I told people I was going to see Nive Nielsen. Unfortunately she was on the shit stage, otherwise known as the Green Man pub stage, which made no bones about having an inadequate P.A system. This is how it is, it seemed to say. It’s a Green Man tradition of sorts. The old third stage, the Green Man café, used to have speakers that you could throw over the main stage with a good underarm. I remember Jeremy Barnes of A Hawk and a Hacksaw scaring the soundman into turning them up, until it was distorted and wonderful.
I’d decided that I was going to see her because I liked the sound of a songwriter from Greenland. That was it, pure and simple. I just had a feeling, a feeling which was compounded as I made my way to the small walled garden arena by someone leaving, telling the few of us who were ambling in to leave now because “it’s bad country”. By the look of him I was able to assume that his enemy was more than likely my friend, so I continued on and sat down.
Her songs were meek and mild, they were honest, straightforward and simple. They were the local band made good, leaving Greenland to travel the world. Nive Nielsen was very shy, which didn’t help her vocals on an already quiet soundsystem. Her guitarist was clearly very into playing his parts, which mixed ballsy electric slide, muted bar-room strumming and Midwest country rock riffs. It was good to watch people enjoying themselves.
Nielsen frequently forgot how to start her songs, the double-bass player helped her out by mouthing lyrics. She would apologise with a giant nervous grin, announce tunes as “another silly song”, then begin to play softly before the band added their weight to her frail strumming.
I can’t say I’ll ever listen to her songs again, but they were a good little refuge in a time of need, a reminder of the real world and all it’s dull and unattractive wisdom. She sung charmingly about making coffee, doing the dishes, vacuum cleaners, domestic stuff… It was just wholesome and straightforward. The kind of concerns that people dismiss as cliché, without actually relating to the activities and what they tell us. I left feeling a little disappointed that it wasn’t anything like bad country, ‘cause that kid got me really excited.