Nilufer Yanya Live at Thalia Hall [REVIEW]

Review By: Dane Roberts

Nilüfer Yanya’s Chicago stop on her highly anticipated “Painless Tour” happened Friday May 13th at Thalia Hall in Pilsen. Thalia Hall houses many casual indie artists ranging of different genres and performance styles. Last month, they had acts from Perfume Genius and Hand Habits which both utilize stage lighting and unique vocal techniques during their performance.

Yanya’s critically acclaimed album, “Painless” was released in early March of this year after following a string of amazing singles and live covers for the past few years. Her first album, “Miss Universe” released in 2019, was acclaimed as one of the best indie debuts in a while and “Painless” as a follow up surely did not disappoint. Hailing from the UK, the “Painless Tour” spans just over a month with the first show starting in Glasgow on March 10th and ending in Portland on May 22nd. The tour covers Europe and North America.

Two acts opened the show, indie pop-rock singer Ada Lea and Chicago based R&B act Tasha. Both ladies commanded a unique performance as patrons were shuffling into the venue. Ada performed songs filled with a gritty bass guitar and subtle charm while Tasha excels in a hushed dialect over upbeat tempos. Both acts got the crowd hyped for Nilüfer and fit very well as a Thalia Hall performer.

A few days before Nilüfer’s Chicago date, it was revealed on social media that a part of her band contracted the COVID-19 virus and would have to postpone a show or two. With Chicago’s show creeping up, I was nervous that our show would’ve been caught in the crosshairs of this bad timing. However, upon entering Thalia Hall that night and seeing the iconic chalkboard portrait of Nilüfer near the entrance, I knew we were in good shape. It was a beautiful night, the crowd was excited, and the openers were awesome.

When Nilüfer steped on stage with her bass guitar, she was joined by a saxophonist and another guitar player, she then started the show off with her stunning mid-album highlight and lead album single, “Midnight Sun”. After playing a stripped back and somewhat mellow version of the song, she turned to the audience and asked us what’s missing? it was clear that the drummer was not present on stage. Nilüfer then informs us that their drummer is still sick and that she’d have to continue the show without them. I didn’t realize how important the drums were to making up the beautiful puzzle that was the album “Painless”, but hearing basically the whole album without them set me straight.

The songs that Nilüfer performed have such hard-hitting band sounds that really tie together with her unique voice and register. I thought that since the drums were missing, we’d get a bit of a different set to accommodate, but the set remained the same, just without the drums. I personally would’ve preferred a slight switch-up in song choice following this sudden change, luckily, Nilüfer Yanya’s deep bass voice hit harder than anticipated, captivating the space and almost making up for the lack of drums.

Some songs definitely missed their drumline hard, but others like “Baby Blu”, “anotherlife”, and “belong with you” created such an impact without them that it felt special to hear these songs in such a unique way. It was unfortunate that the drummer couldn’t make it, and you could tell on Nilüfer’s face that she was upset about it too, she still wanted to give a great show, and she did regardless of the circumstances.


2022 Tour Dates:

JUN 10 FRI – syd for solen 2022 @ 7:00pm – Frederiksberg, Denmark
JUN 24 FRI – Leisure Festival 2022 @ 7:00pm – Margate, United Kingdom
JUL 7 THU – Nos Alive @ 3:00pm – Oeiras, Portugal
JUL 7 THU – Bilbao BBK Live 2022 @ 7:00pm – Bilbao, Spain
JUL 15 FRI – Finsbury Park @ 1:30pm – London, United Kingdom
JUL 21 THU – Latitude Festival 2022 @ 7:00pm – Southwold, United Kingdom
AUG 5 FRI – Crystal Palace Bowl @ 5:00pm – Tower Of London, United Kingdom
AUG 11 THU – Way Out West 2022 @ 7:00pm – Gothenburg, Sweden
AUG 13 SAT – Way Out West 2022 @ 7:00pm – Göteborg, Sweden
SEP 1 THU – End Of The Road Festival 2022 @ 7:00pm – Salisbury, United Kingdom
OCT 22 SAT – Rock Café @ 8:00pm – Praha 1, Czechia
OCT 25 TUE – Circolo Magnolia (Indoor) @ 8:00pm – Segrate, Italy
OCT 26 WED – Locomotiv Club @ 9:00pm – Bologna, Italy
OCT 28 FRI – Razzmatazz salas 2 & 3 @ 9:00pm – Barcelona, Spain
OCT 29 SAT – Moby Dick Club @ 9:00pm – Madrid, Spain
OCT 30 SUN – Loco Club @ 9:00pm – Valencia, Spain

Check out some great live photos here!