This was the second time I’d seen Kate Nash. This gig was during the tour for her second album. She came across like a woman scorned; an embittered femme fatale singing with such venom resulting in a mesmerising performance. She remains one of my guilty pleasures.
Date: March 22, 2011
Venue: Rescue Rooms
“THE girl next door done good”, read many a tabloids’ entertainment pages after the universal success of Foundations and the rush-released album of quirky and twee tunes that spawned it. Suddenly, Kate Nash was catapulted into the hearts of teenagers and Mondeo drivers alike. Girls saw her as a new inspiration; men enjoyed the debate of whether or not they fancied her. Suddenly, everyone loved young Miss Nash.
But on her second coming, if you thought the lyrics to Foundations were those of a woman scorned, you’ve heard nothing yet.
You see, Kate is not the girl you thought you knew. Dressed in a clingy velvet black dress and a weird hat which pits her somewhere between sexy vamp and a witch’s cat, she takes to the stage amidst adoring cheers from her teenage fanbase, backed by her attractive all-female band, and ready to show us that she’s no longer just a one-dimensional twee-pop sensation but a formidable, transcendental artist.
She tears straight into I Just Love You More – a stalkerish, scowling tale of yearning, with post-punk guitars and Kate’s terrifying screams forming a frothy maelstrom of love and loss. It’s not the only time her punk influences rush to the surface in the form of all-girl punk band The Slits, as Kate’s eagerness to diversify is aired.
The Mansion Song further illustrates her ability to switch direction, not to mention her lyrical prowess. It’s an unsettling diatribe of biting poetry and a blistering attack on scenester hangers-on. It’s delivered via a venomous rant, backed by haunting, swirling soundscapes before it descends into a chaotic wall of noise. It’s intense stuff.
Even when she eschews the riot-grrrl angst and reverts to her cuter side on the doo-wop flecked Kiss That Girl, the music hides a sinister threat to her squeeze should he ever stray.
Do-Wah-Doo, too, with its shimmering sass and playful chorus, contains more tales of resentment, this time towards a rival female, with Kate ending her onslaught with a ferocious “I think she’s a bitch!”
Unsurprisingly, Foundations gets the biggest cheer, and deservedly so. It’s a stark reminder of how Kate has transformed herself from lo-fi experimentalist to the genre-spanning femme fatale we see before us.
But if all this makes Kate sound like an embittered and angry young woman, with an ingrained hatred for the opposite sex, think again, for she’s talented enough to juxtapose herself between a woman scorned and a hopeless romantic, the latter trait audible on her last two songs, Birds and Pumpkin Soup.
These two songs –combined with her inter-song convivial banter and ever-present smile – show Kate to be sweet at heart, but with that devilish alter-ego bubbling beneath her skin.
Indeed, her rebellious yearning for rock ‘n’ roll shenanigans is evident as she surfs her keyboard during Pumpkin Soup, worrying her crew members who rush to steady her, and showing off her knickers to an excited crowd.
As the young audience lap it all up, her position as an inspiration for Britain’s youth is assured. They can relate to her songs, and regard her as something of a demigoddess. She’s a spokesperson for a teenage generation, and a writer of some very sharp and well-informed pop songs indeed.