The South coast met South Yorkshire, as Barnsley Nightingale, Kate Rusby graced the King's Theatre in Southsea. On the spring tour of her Life in a Paper Boat album, she treated us to a rich, textured folk sound, often electrified and augmented with the well-deployed synthesiser that signified a more experimental sound on the recent album. She was flanked by her impressive four-strong band, led by her husband, Damien O'Kane, on guitar. 2017 is both the 20th anniversary of her first solo album and of her 25th year as a touring musician, so the show also had a celebratory, retrospective focus. When you've released fourteen albums, 'More albums than Madonna and not a cone in sight', choosing a set list must be tricky, but old favourites like, "Underneath the Stars" and track one from album one, "Sir Eglamore" were dusted off and gloriously showcased.
She put on a proper show, in two halves, without support, beginning with "Benjamin Bowmaneer", the tale of a tailor with tremendous reactions who manages to stab a fly with a pin, through the fly's ear (perhaps where Bruce Lee got the inspiration for his skills from). The audience reflected her wide appeal, ranging from silver-topped folky folks to the two ten-year-olds whose day she must have made when she name-checked them near the end. As is the folk tradition, the atmosphere was communal and inclusive, the audience treated to stories of the Easter tradition of 'pace egging' (which clearly hadn't made it to Southsea - pace egging, that is, not Easter) and Kate's reflections on motherhood, particularly the prospect of her young daughters dealing with suitors in the future, before she sang "The Ardent Shepherdess."
Hampshire-dwellers were treated to a masterclass in dialect, with 'maungy' and 'nesh' put to excellent use, and 'mardy' possibly needing to be googled by some afterwards, but that's one of the most endearing things about Kate Rusby's act: you know that you're getting 100% her, with no unnecessary dilution, compromise or affectation. Not only does her show feel homely, but it is home-grown, with husband at her side, brother on the sound desk and even her nephew on the merch stand.
Continue reading: Kate Rusby, King's Theatre, Southsea 20.05.17 Live Review
It becomes obvious after a short time in Kate Rusby's company that she has a lot to say. It's not a case of unfiltered, big-star pontifications. It simply stands to reason that when you've lived and breathed music for the vast majority of your time on Earth, you're hardly short of a pertinent thought or ten. It's no journalistic hyperbole to suggest that we could have talked for ages, nailing endless pots of Yorkshire Tea en route.
Kate spoke to Contact Music recently from the HQ of her label, Pure Records (flanked by her loyal dog, Doris). Talking about the 25-year story so far inevitably involved some fond nostalgia, but far from making us both feel distinctly aged, what struck most from her manner was the effervescence and exuberance that she brings to the present. Despite being at the top of British folk for twenty years now, there's still a joyous sense that comes from immense job satisfaction and consistent renewal. After so long in the business and fifteen albums, you can definitely argue that Kate Rusby is just getting going.
This year is the 25th anniversary of your career and the 20th anniversary of your first solo album, “Hourglass”. How do you feel about such numbers and about the passage of time?
It’s frightening! In my head, I’ve only been doing it for ten years at the most, not actually twenty-five. This year, because of it being the 25th anniversary, we’ve been doing a thing called ‘Throwback Thursday’ on social media, where I’ve been trawling back through old photos and footage. It’s so strange seeing it with my own eyes, because in my head, I’m only just thirty and I haven’t been doing this long. On the other hand, I’m so proud that we’re still going, because there aren’t that many acts that have such longevity these days. So, despite feeling old, I’m dead chuffed.
Continue reading: Kate Rusby Interview
It’s a mixed bag for UK albums, as the release schedule starts to slow in preparation for the big race for the Christmas sales market. This week, Jake Bugg toppled Mumford & Sons from what looked to be a pretty comfortable reign at the top of the albums chart. But can he stay there for a second week or do any of this week’s releases have what to takes to shift him?
The strongest competition for Jake will be coming from across the pond, in the shape of the fourth studio album from Taylor Swift entitled Red.
She performed on the X Factor results show here last weekend and her last album, 2010’s Speak Now reached number six. Her profile has increased considerably since then, though – thanks in no small part to her contribution to the Hunger Games soundtrack. If anyone can shift Bugg from the top spot, we reckon it’s Taylor.