The Cardigans’ Nina Persson goes solo at NYC’s Mercury Lounge

Nina Persson performed a triumphant solo show in her adopted city of New York at the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night, February 19th. (Photo by Jörgen Ringstrand)

Nina Persson performed a triumphant solo show in her adopted city of New York at the Mercury Lounge on Wednesday night, February 19th. (Photo by Jörgen Ringstrand)

By John Curley

At age 39, the Swedish-born singer-songwriter Nina Persson is a veteran of the recording studio and the concert stage. Best known as the lead vocalist of The Cardigans, Persson, who is now a resident of Harlem, has also been involved in the side project A Camp as well as serving as a guest vocalist with other acts (notably in the Manic Street Preachers’ song “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”). Earlier this month, Persson released her solo debut, Animal Heart, on the Brooklyn-based label The End Records.

Persson has one of the best pop-music voices in the business. Her voice is silky smooth and instantly recognizable. That served her well at her solo show at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on Wednesday night, February 19th. The performance at the Mercury Lounge was billed as the “Record Release Show.” Persson did not perform any material by The Cardigans at the Mercury Lounge. Her Animal Heart album had been released the week before the show, so many in the crowd weren’t overly familiar with the material. But her voice is so fantastic that it draws the listener in and envelops them in the song. Persson performed all but one of the songs on Animal Heart during the show. The crowd seemed to be very much into the solo material, given their reaction to each song. And the audience seemed to really appreciate the privilege of getting to see a vocalist of Persson’s stature in a smallish venue such as the Mercury Lounge.

Opening the show with a nice take on the solo track “Clip Your Wings,” Persson performed a 65-minute show that featured many highlights. Among these was the performance of the brilliant “Animal Heart,” the solo album’s title track, as well as the solo song “Dreaming Of Houses” and a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Walking The Cow,” a song that Persson had previously performed with A Camp. The full-band portion of the show ended with a spectacular cover version of David Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging.” While the other band members vacated the stage, Persson remained with keyboardist Johanna Cranitch and the duo closed out the show with a moving version of the solo song “This Is Heavy Metal.”

In addition to Persson on lead vocals and Cranitch on keyboards, Persson’s band includes guitarist David Dawda, Grant Zubritsky on bass, and drummer Brian Kantor.

Opening the show was White Prism, a band led by Cranitch on lead vocals. White Prism’s 30-minute set of synth-driven pop-rock received a nice reaction from the crowd.

Persson is currently performing in Europe. She will be back in North America with a show in Vienna, VA on April 12th. She returns to the New York City concert stage with a performance at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on April 16th.

Nina Persson’s set list at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on Wednesday, February 19th was as follows:

Clip Your Wings
Burning Bridges For Fuel
Animal Heart
Forgot To Tell You
Catch Me Crying
Bear On The Beach (A Camp song)
Jungle
Dreaming Of Houses
Silver
I Can Buy You (A Camp song)
Food For The Beast

Encore:
Walking The Cow (cover of Daniel Johnston song)
The Grand Destruction Game
Boys Keep Swinging (cover of David Bowie song)
This Is Heavy Metal

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