Live Music + Gig Reviews

Kate Jackson @ Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen, London

7 December 2011

Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson

By loose calculations, it’s the first time Kate Jackson has played to a London crowd since around the mid-’00s; plenty of time to speed nostalgia for her old band The Long Blondes into the clouds. Their striking looks, feedback squeals, caustic romps and Jackson’s husky foghorn froze those few years in time for so many.

They lived out the raucous dreams of a generation’s late suburban teens, before descending into a try-hard take on Giorgio Moroder producing Blondie on second album Couples. But it was forgiven, for the force and joyous clatter of gin-addled anthems Giddy Stratospheres and Separated By Motorways – perfect for their time, and for ours.

Clearly occupying hallowed territory, Kate Jackson’s debut solo single Wonder Feeling goes some way to recreating that same sense of edible, dangerous romance. Live, unfortunately, she slips straight back into coquettish mode – her performance is teeming with out-of-date pastiche.

A bore-band of men in matching red shirts sound lacklustre, dry and indistinctive. Much of the set sounds like drunk slurs that should be reserved for the private collection; the style of the staging – fake palm trees and mirrorballs – swallowing them whole.

Proceedings slide further downhill from a strong opening into a duo of songs called The Atlantic and The Pacific, and a closer which seems to be about being swallowed by the city. They’re set against Killers-esque power choruses, and brought to life by a drum fill that could capture 2005 in a bar if given the chance.

There’s little to believe in tonight. And it’s not just that we’ve grown up and expanded our musical palette – for all the self-worth and arrogance of that concept. More that Kate Jackson’s new songs unfortunately lack the excitement and balls of her very best.

She needs foils as a frontwoman, and there’s nothing to watch apart from her deliberate struts as each songs tails off into nothingness. It’s true that her voice still sounds marvellous and distinctive, but perhaps memory of The Long Blondes should be left well alone.

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Kate Jackson @ Hoxton Square Bar + Kitchen, London