During the course of 2019, Scotland’s Kathryn Joseph has been on the road a great deal, in support of her album From When I Wake The Want Is. Given her efforts, it seems fitting that this tour comes to an end at EartH, a significantly larger venue than the small theatres, coffee shops and festivals she was playing at the turn of the year. Her music absolutely thrives on a sense of intimacy, so seeing how the live proposition would cope with being scaled up was always going to be interesting.
Opening is Rick Redbeard. He performs a short but beautiful set with just an acoustic guitar, making music that punches the heart. As with any good folk singer the storytelling between songs was superb, including one episode where he spoke of being internet trolled by his own mum. In a room where you could hear a pin drop – or a beer can open – the audience was completely hooked by the songs, with Anyway I Can being the absolute standout, complete with the line “I’m gonna love you anyway, I can’t give it up” tapping into the memories of everyone here who has ever been in love.
Perhaps in consequence, Kathryn Joseph took to the stage declaring that she felt quite unhinged with love, and was going to try and keep the talking to a minimum to avoid disaster. She failed spectacularly with this, of course. With an equally simple set-up of just voice, piano, and what looked like a giant wooden percussion block under her foot, Joseph’s haunting voice filled the room. With a set that mixed from both her studio albums and a sublime cover (of which more later), here was an exhibition of a talent honed.
Joseph is self-confessionally candid in her storytelling, unafraid to tackle relationship pros and cons. There is an intensity from Joseph’s performance that demands one listen to every word she says. During Tell My Lover the story she is telling is deeply felt. The Mountain proves to be the best of her own work tonight with the change of pace being quite beautiful, whilst The Weight sees her managing to somehow sing the lead and backing vocals all in one.
The unexpected highlight was a beautiful rendition of Frightened Rabbit‘s Poke. Her erstwhile tour mates The Twilight Sad have been playing their cover of Keep Yourself Warm nightly, and this has become a singalong moment of memory in their set. But Joseph’s rendition of Poke creates a whole new feeling. There are reminders of Scott Hutchison’s lyrical genius but, much like the rest of her set, her performance draws the audience complete and entire into the moment where every note is shared.
If this performance marks the end of this chapter of music then it has managed to go out with a bang, leaving everyone eager to see what happens next for the completely unique talent that is Kathryn Joseph.