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Review: Kate Tempest at the Kings Arms

Tue 19 Jan 2016 In: Entertainment View at Wayback View at NDHA

I arrive at the Kings Arms in the warm dusk, along with a steady flow of people drifting in from the carpark out to the packed garden bar. Somehow I am pretty sure that most people here have done their time in London. A mix of all ages, smart clothes, quiet stylishness, anticipation, cigarettes and full glasses, spurts of banter ring out louder among the buzzing conversations.   Suddenly the mass from the courtyard has been sucked inside, bulging full, and the squeeze has left plenty of people spilling out, pushing to see her through the packed heat of the room. Kate. Despite the powerful rhythms, from both the drum kit and the rain of rhymes, people are standing still, gobsmacked, overheated, concentrating. My back is sweaty, its hard to breath actually, and no one is moving, except for the bearded young guy in the front row who is enthusiastically nodding his head. All eyes are watching the girl on the edge of the stage who is standing in a halo of golden locks, sweat already beading on her face, in total focus on the words pouring out her mouth, with perfect rhythm, pitch, clarity. Her delivery is perfect. The beats are perfect, from the guy with a big grin and wild dreads in a muppets Animal t-shirt and bright red socks on drumkit. The synth from the shy girl in the hoops and the fringe, are perfect. There are sweet smiles and eye contact between them all, these guys are smooth and enjoying it. I realise that we are being treated to a recital of Kate's latest album, “Everybody Down”. The Kings Arms suddenly feels like a small comfortable lounge in the heat of a fireside story, softly spoken to each one of us. Becki, with the incredible compassionate kindness and determination of Cinderella, is independently putting herself through uni, while working days in a cafe and late nights in a massage sauna. Broken hearted Pete, with the slimy half-brother, is digging himself deeper into a hole. Harry is a coke dealer, with a heart of gold, and a big dream. Somewhere in the middle, people begin to relax. She belts us with occasional interjections of spoken word, past the speed of comprehension, we catch every thread by osmosis. She jokes, a religious lecture, on loving each other, smiling at someone, taking that smile out into the world, and doing something with it. Don't buy stuff, filling despair with belongings, don't even buy her album in the hope of happiness, find your passion and go do it. We are treated to a few final outstanding, unaccompanied poems, cos she’s not into fake endings and long rounds of applause. It ends and we do anyway, and are promised a grimey afterparty of personal favourite tunes, south London style. I am appalled that people leave; soon, Kate, Kwake, and Adam are back on stage, full of joy and rocking out dirty raggaton, a David Bowie tribute, and old school anthem, and deep deep beats, and us ragtag leftovers love it. Such talented musicians, why is it not still packed in here, surely people dont think poetry comes out of air, but sound, bodies moving and enjoying life! At some stage Kate heads outside for a cigarette. Funnily enough she almost looks brighter in real life than in photos. Her hair really is cornsilk yellow and curly, her eyes are really bright blue. I watch her work the room, responding to peoples awe and praise with a sincere thank you, really receiving our love. Unabashed, she meets people with encouragement. I am a fan of innocence. In this jaded world it is too easy to fold under the weight of the lowest common denominator, of sour opinion and exhausted excitements. Somehow her words freshen us, soften us, encourage us to take another look, come alive and get among it all. It's days later and I am still basking in the afterglow of inspiration and happiness. Elspeth Fougere - 19th January 2016    

Credit: Elspeth Fougere

First published: Tuesday, 19th January 2016 - 11:51am

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