Head slightly bowed, Kate Tempest casts a slightly shy, almost apologetic figure as she walks on stage to a huge roar. After thanking us for being there, and some heartfelt indications of how much she likes the ‘people and soul’ of Glasgow, she pauses and says she has something to ask us.
She’s there to play through her latest album (Let Them Eat Chaos) from start to finish. The tracks will take us through the lives and stories of random strangers living on the same street. She talks of connection, of pushing aside prejudice and hate, and how we need to learn to love more. She asks if we are up for the journey this evening, and if so, ‘let’s leave those phones in pockets, be connected with the people in this space, right here and now’.
And so we did. Phones remained in pockets as she launched into the opening lines of the album and the journey began.
“Picture a vacuum,
an endless and unmoving blackness.
or the absence at least,
Backed by stripped down, bass heavy electronica, at times she whispers, at times she howls and rants against the injustices of the world. Her lyrics are clever when they need to be, quiet and simple when they should be, and bombastically rhythmic when she hits her stride to deliver her strongest words. She is much more powerful on stage than via recording, her passions laid bare, honest and open, inviting you to join her in the revelations.
I was transfixed, veering from admiration of her wordplay, the dexterity of her delivery, and lost in the throbbing pulse of the music. It was only at the end of the hour long set that I realised I had half-full pint of beer still warming in my hand.
Sure, at times her lyrics were a little lost in the larger sound, and sometimes I found myself more lost in the music than the words, but it’s been a long time since I was at a gig and didn’t even realise an hour had passed.
Maybe it was because I wasn’t distracted by anaemic flashes from mobile phones, maybe it’s because everyone around me was similarly taken with what was happening, a collective slow build of joy in a shared experience.
Maybe it’s the sensibility she lays bare that tells us love will see us through, that shared experiences can bring mankind together, that at some point humanity will find a way to rise above the current mood, that we will fight to recover our sanity, and must fight to rid ourselves of fear and self-loathing.
Or maybe it was all of that and more, a perfect overlap of audience desire and artist delivery. Regardless of the why, if you have tickets for her tour I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.