It was a sold-out Valentine's Day gig at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds; a renowned venue with a wide range of consistently reputable bands gracing its stage on a regular basis. At 9 o'clock, I walked into a packed room, buzzing with anticipation in front of an empty stage. The diverse age range of the night's crowd spoke volumes about the impact and wide acclaim Kate Tempest's 2014 album 'Everybody Down' received.

Kate Tempest

I was gutted when I saw the set-times that I missed Loyle Carner's 8 o'clock support slot. He's one of the most promising youngsters rising through the scene with a fresh, distinctive sound. To see him perform would have been excellent, but alas, the week's rota wasn't overly kind to me. With a wide range of drum pads, a keyboard, synthesizer, percussion and a backing vocalist, Kate's 4 piece band opened with a heavy instrumental before Tempest walked humbly on stage and dropped a confident, passionate, incredibly structured and witty a cappella version of 'Marshall Law', touching on the music industry as well as demonstrating her fantastic storytelling abilities. The consistency of her flow and the melodic nature of her delivery made for a transfixing opener. The punchy, driving beat of 'The Truth' backed Kate as she impressed with a charismatic performance; the chemistry she had with her dreadlocked hypewoman, and I suppose I could call her a backing dancer as well, doubled the energy.

Following a brief speech about the importance of community, and how music can help bring people closer together, the London poet launched into 'Lonely Days'; this track had a real vibe to it, with a distorted, heavy bassline and real content from the 29-year-old. Next was a tense performance of 'Chicken', a vividly detailed family story. Tempest's consistent, rapid conveyance was continuously impressive, and the pitch shifting effect on her voice made for a relevant and funny addition. Following an energetic run through of 'The Beigeness', with really dope percussion, Kate spoke about the music business' continued sexism, before delivering an intricate performance of 'Theme From Becky'. A Valentine's Day card for Kate was thrown on stage from the crowd, and she seemed genuinely touched, continuing with a precise and clear rendition of the glitchy 'Stink'. Kate gave an inspirational and passionate speech about her motivation, with a woman from the audience invading the stage to speak briefly about her experiences as a midwife in North Wales, and both the crowd and performers were receptive. Tempest's political message seemed authentic and honest, and artistic voices like hers are so important in modern day society.

Dark on-stage lighting and strobes only added to the high energy levels as Kate showed her complex writing with the resounding 'The Heist'; her band were consistently tight all night, and Tempest's backing vocalist gave an incredible showing during this track, prompting a fantastic response from the packed out Leeds crowd. After a charismatic showing on the excellent 'Circles', and a frantic, confident performance of 'Happy End', Kate called for more empathy and less greed before her final song of the evening. After the crowd cheered for an encore, Tempest delivered an emotional poem, paying her respects to soldiers fighting wars for the rich. The political, relatable content Tempest repeatedly tackles in her songs and poems make her a truly exciting voice, and seeing her live increased the emotional response tenfold.

Sam Bennett

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