Kate Tempest, Motion, February 2015
So, I go to meet N on a Sunday night.
“Yo, check this: we got two options”
That’s his opener.
“I was just at a cocktail bar in Clifton, and I know the barmaid, and she knows you, saw you play somewhere, so we could head up there, that might be cool…or, my mate’s got two tickets for Kate Tempest and he can’t go, so we can do that. What do you think?” Asks N.
I think I’d rather go to see Kate Tempest than get set up with a barmaid, I say – no offence to the barmaid, mind…
He was thinking more like I’d be his wingman, he says. That makes me want to go there even less, I say: let’s go see Kate Tempest.
We walk up the hill to retrieve the tickets from under a bin. Auspicious.
Because I was late, and because we have to walk to the mate’s flat to get the tickets and then walk to the venue and I take us (slightly) the wrong way, we rock up and the security dude says “You’re here to see Kate Tempest? She’s on now – she’s nearly finished”
OK, well, we didn’t pay, so…
Turning up late for a gig makes a refreshing change from my usual turn-up-early- get-a-good-spot-only-for-someone-a-foot-taller-than-me-to-slide-in-right-in-front-of-me-just-as-the-thing-starts routine.
We pile in and KT’s on a poetry tip.
I’ve seen her do her poetry before. It’s pretty intense.
And people listen, intently – it would probably be shocking if they didn’t – we’ve walked in well into the set and maybe we’re just not into the atmosphere that’s been building…
In one of her many monologues (we only see about a quarter of her set, judging by the time we arrive, and she does four in this time, each longer than the last) she says it’s been twelve years she’s been doing this.
It’s good to see a poet get this much recognition (the gig is sold out, I think), and it seems we’ve been building towards this for the last ten years or more. And it’s good that it’s someone so passionate about words and their effects. KT is crazy passionate about what she’s doing, there’s no escaping that. And she’s really good at it. That’s probably the main reason she’s here and so many people are here to see her do her thing.
I just don’t think I like it that much.
Frankly, it’s all a bit much for me. Maybe for her, too. Clearly most people disagree with me on this, and find it very moving. It’s a taste thing innit? To each their own.
I’m not really sure what the band are doing (I think there are four of them, but I can’t see), but it’s all very kick-heavy, that kind of bassy, house/techno-flavoured rap I don’t enjoy.
“I’m not telling you what to do, I don’t know who you should vote for”
“Green Party!” someone shouts.
“Wow, you don’t hear many party political heckles, do you?” N remarks.
True. Welcome to Bristle...
For an encore, Kate comes back on her own, looking emotional. I don’t know if she’s actually crying, but it looks like she probably is. She performs a poem about soldiers, which is typically long but pretty good, and characteristically hard-hitting.
Her heart is on her sleeve, which is odd, because most people keep theirs inside, despite many claiming otherwise.
“She left it all there, didn’t she?” I say to N on the way out, “She’s not took any of it away with her.”
That makes me sad not because I disagree (I disagree with everything, including that last sentence. (It’s a reflex but I do enjoy it)) but because the difference is probably just hard work and the luck/opportunities hard work earns. I don’t work less hard than successful people because I’m lazy. It’s because I’m fearful and lack confidence and determination. Or maybe I just don’t work hard enough.
And that’s the saddest thing of all.
So, I suppose it got to me emotionally, after all.
Frontier Ruckus, The Gallimaufry, February 2015
And the Award for Most Instruments Played In One Set goes to…
Wait a minute, I’ve lost count:
Keys, synth, trumpet
(with AND without mute),
French horn, melodica, saw
At one point, there’s a guitar solo, followed by a banjo solo, followed by a saw solo.
Fuck.ing.Hell, this is brilliant.
Then they play Moonriver on saw and banjo.
Does that sound like it might have been terrible?
Then you are a fool.
Fuck.ing.Hell, this is brilliant.
Tonight, I learned something about me:
I need to get really really good on the banjo, as a matter of urgency.
So much more energy
Than most bands of this kind.
They sound like a mix
Of Port O’Brien and Bright Eyes
And The Decemberists,
But that doesn’t do it justice.
And Eyepennies would love it
I should really phone him
(This gig is life-affirming,
I’m going home to re-assess everything.
And tell everyone that I love them.
Once I’ve had some sleep.)
The band are from Ann Arbor, Michigan –
I discover after,
They’re from Detroit.
“Is it still there?”
“It is – and it’s coming back”
Says the banjo man.
“We have vinyl records,
And compact discs,
And also T Shirts
Featuring Seinfeld characters
Which will hopefully result
In a lawsuit, leading to
A lot of publicity.”
Says the singer.
And the Award for Most Instruments Played In One Song goes to…
That dude, there on the right.
Great gig, great night.
From Detroit, The Exchange, February 2015
I love this band, I just don’t know if I like them…
“Hello, we’re From Detroit.
We’re not actually from Detroit, of course…
This is a song about menstruation, it’s called The Honeymoon Period.”
When I laugh at this, everybody stares at me.
I say everybody; not including the band, the support bands, the sound engineer, the bar staff, or me, there are six people here. Still, I feel nineteen pairs of eyes on me, registering intense disapproval for enjoying what I innocently took to be a joke.
Which sets the tone for what follows: half an hour of nerve-shredding noise, screamed lyrics of which one or two delicious vignettes are intelligible and a seemingly endless cascade of amazing inter-song banter:
“The purpose of this song is to mitigate the rapacious effects of what is euphemistically termed ‘globalisation’”
“Love makes the world go round….well, it’s either that or conservation of angular momentum.”
Again, I laugh – that’s a good line, by anyone’s standards. Again, everyone else in the room looks at me as if I were laughing at a dying child.
By this point I just don’t care; this is the only enjoyment I will get from this whole thing. For a fleeting moment, I regret coming on my own; I wonder if I will make it out alive. Honestly, if looks could kill…
I make it out alive – just. I feel hounded out, but I leave with a grin on my face.
I might just go and see this lot again.
But not on my own.