Live Music + Gig Reviews

Kate Nash @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

18 October 2010

Kate NashThe last time Kate Nash played here it looked more like a boy band concert. A crowd full of squealing bunny eared and glow stick wielding teenage girls were collected by a mob of anxious looking parents at the end of the night. Kate herself looked more than happy as the leader of the gang, with a Disney themed stage back-drop and a big princess dress, she happily bestowed her gems of wisdom about how boys are rubbish, pretty girls are horrid and why she is so bittah.

Fast forward three years and her audience seems to have grown up with her; most of them are in their late teens, but there are still a few chaperones gathered around the bar who look more than a little uncomfortable when it quickly becomes apparent that Kate Nash hasn’t got a lot of time for Disney anymore.

Support comes in the shape of Brigitte Aphrodite; a gobby Nashalike who looks a nightmarish Tina Turner/Suzi Quatro hybrid. Flanked by a band of floppy haired Busted rejects, she sings about getting fingered because there’s nothing to do in Bromley, masturbating over Kitt from Knight Rider and sneers as she tells us Brigitte Aphrodite is her real name (“I’m Greek… I’m not a pretentious twat face”). But the song that provokes the biggest reaction is the rather more innocent Dance With A Stranger. It’s brash, in your face, Xenomania-glossed punk, but she’s strangely endearing and her erratic hyper-pop wins over the crowd, most of whom have been crammed in since the doors opened.

Carrying on where Aphrodite left off, Nash opens with a track that raised a few eyebrows when it was released on her last album, My Best Friend Is You. I Just Love You More was her first public experiment with riot grrrl, a genre she’s clearly developed a late passion for. She spits and growls her way through with an energy and ferocity unrecognisable in the cute, nervous girl who used to spend most of her shows tucked away behind a piano. It’s a theme that runs throughout the show, or at least in the songs she enjoys. Dressed in a sparkly blue leotard and black tights, she runs at the likes of Take Me To A Higher Place but rushes and goes through the motions with the more record company friendly songs like Kiss That Girl and Skeleton.

She’s absorbed the teachings of Kathleen Hannah and Corin Tucker to such a degree that not only has she pressed a tour 7″, recorded with her girl support bands, and written a fanzine which she throws into the crowd, but she’s got some right-on messages to share too. Size zero? “My motto is, ‘you don’t have to be hungry to be happy'”. Homophobia? “It’s dog shit!”

Strangely her greatest song, the ranty and eerily sad Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt, misses the mark as she delivers it in a calmer, almost upbeat manner. Instead it’s the quieter, acoustic songs that pack the biggest punch. I Hate Seagulls is a jaw dropper but performance of the night comes courtesy of Birds, which stuns the audience into silence as she strums away, delivering her Skins-generation love story, proving that she’s not just gob and glitter.

She dishes out Foundations and Merry Happy before skipping off and coming back for an encore of Pumpkin Soup, which she ends by stomping on her piano, dressed in a pink tutu as her exit music, Violet by Hole, kicks in. Which sums her up well; she might be a thousand cliches rolled into one, but she’s exciting and leaves a gaggle of excited, inspired girls, clutching their fanzines as they make their way out to look for mum and dad. Which is what being a pop star’s all about it, isn’t it?

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