It may be badly designed, often causes your computer to crash and, worst of all, be owned by Rupert Murdoch, but there’s no denying that MySpace.com has revolutionised the music business. All it took last year was for Lily Allen to add Kate Nash to her list of online friends on her page – interest soon snowballed, leading to a piece in the Observer Music Monthly and a deal with the cooler-than-cool Moshi Moshi label.
She may be nowhere near the level of stardom that Lily Allen’s achieved just yet, but there’s certainly a word of mouth buzz about Nash at the moment as the couple of hundred people crammed into the tiny Steel Stage room at the Leadmill would testify to. A beautifully designed stage – consisting of lamps in the shape of bunny rabbits, teapots and a rather cool ‘Kate Nash’ sign on the wall – set the scene, before the strains of the electro-version of debut single Caroline’s A Victim on the PA introduced the lady herself.
Blessed with a natural stage presence, it was hard to believe this was Nash’s first UK tour. Backed by the frighteningly youthful looking Elliott on drums and bassist/keyboardist/guitarist Jay, her songs were beautifully beefed up from the sometimes rather fragile sounding demos to be found on the internet.
Songs titles such as The Shit Song and Dickhead may see some people write off Nash as something of a comedy songwriter, but this would be a grave mistake. These are songs written straight from the heart of a typical teenage girl, dealing with topics such as unrequited love and unsuitable boyfriends quite brilliantly. With piano playing reminiscent of Regina Spektor and an endearing, if rather unnerving, habit of looking audience members straight in the eye when she’s singing, at times it’s enough to break your heart.
The highlight of the set came in the middle when Nash stood up from her piano and strapped on an acoustic guitar. The superior acoustic version of Caroline’s A Victim was good enough, but this was then followed by the delectable double-whammy of Birds and The Nicest Thing. The latter in particular was just stunning, with even the incessant chattering at the bar dying away during the song as everyone realised that something quite special was happening on stage.
We were also treated to a sneak preview of her forthcoming single Foundations which, with its naggingly catchy chorus and rolling piano chords, could easily become a huge radio hit. Rather staggeringly, tonight was the first time that Nash had played the song live. Even better was the lovely We Get On, a heartbreakingly honest account of ‘girl meets boy, boy doesn’t know girl exists’ which manages to include the line “Saturday night, I watch Channel Five, I particularly like CSI” and still sound almost unbearably moving.
The bouncy Merry Happy finished the set, with the many cries for an encore going unheeded. A nicely varied crowd, including gooey-eyed indie boys, stern looking lesbians and frankly rather peculiar middle aged gentlemen, all had one thing in common – they’d fallen head over heels for Kate Nash. And very soon, you will too.