To celebrate the release of her ninth album Extreme, Molly Nilsson performed a rare live show in the basement of Soup starting with most of the album followed by a short selection of tracks from her impressive back catalogue.
Molly Nilsson was once described as the "most popular pop star you've never heard of" and whilst playing the basement of Soup might mean that's not strictly true, she very much is adored by an audience that listen attentively to the tracks from Extreme that make up the first two-thirds of set before letting themselves go towards to the end to the songs she declares are some of her favourites. The sense of mystery around her is deepened by her live show, just her and a backing track on a USB stick that she slips into her pocket at the end. It's something that might appall the purists, but it's actually quite magical.
The beats on these songs, over-amplified a little by Soup's booming system, are heavier than the more minimalist arrangements on the records and sometimes that masks the deeply personal lyrical content that Molly talks to us about between some of the songs. Earth Girls invites everyone to be a woman as she takes on the patriarchy, Fearless Like A Child is about abortion and she tells us that they should be available for free and with freedom of choice. Sweet Smell Of Success is about hating where you're from, whilst Obnoxiously Talented is dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg after Molly mentions that Manchester is the home of communism amongst other things.
There's something hypnotic about watching her lose herself in these songs, bathed in a misty red light, reliving them in front of us. There's no grand gestures or moves, but they're not needed. The music is enough to draw us in and as the more familiar tracks like Money Never Dreams, Gun Control and the set-closing 1995, which she modestly tells us would be worth the admission fee alone when the announcement that it's the last song of the night is met with groans, kick in, the crowd starts to move a little more. There's still a feeling as she finishes, curtseying before leaving the stage, that we're witnessing one of the best kept secrets in a time where the internet tends to reveal them in plain sight.
She played Absolute Power, Earth Girls, Fearless Like A Child, Kids Today, Sweet Smell Of Success, Avoid Heaven, Obnoxiously Talented, They Will Pay, Take Me To Your Leader, Pompeii, Money Never Dreams, Gun Control, A Slice Of Lemon, Mountain Time and 1995