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REVIEW: Kate Rusby at Cheltenham Town Hall
“Spring has sprung” as Yorkshire’s folk favourite Kate Rusby returned to Cheltenham Town Hall for her Spring tour ahead of her new album. Known as the “Barnsley Nightingale” the English folk singer-songwriter from Barnsley in Yorkshire, climbed on stage and began the show: “How are we all doing in Cheltenham today? Spring has sprung!” It was all smiles, cheers and claps around the rosy-red lit room and she was yet to sing a note.
Kicking off with ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’, the perfect piece to show off her soft, beautiful tones whilst the audience sat back and relaxed. “Strange song isn’t it? But songs can be about anything and everything” she declared.
Kate Rusby gave the Gloucestershire public a taste of what folk is all about. Her light-hearted and quirky banter in between each song warmed the audience with a particular glow that you rarely feel from music today. Next, her Mayday song, ‘We Will Sing’, complimented her ‘spring has sprung’ theme as May hastily approaches. Her sways on stage were mirrored in the seats before her. Kate’s voice was filled with emotion and with a combination of clarity and husk, from the slower ballads of ‘The Lark’, to the jolly traditional, ‘Jenny’.
Her excitement was clear from the moment she stepped on the stage and it never stopped. Every time she closed one of her songs, her gleaming smile lit up the room and it was infectious! Just before performing one of her brand-new songs, ‘The Farmer’s Toast’, she announced a new album, ‘Philosophers’ Poets and Kings’, to be released next month and available to pre-order on April 17th 2019.
The set was broken up with personal introductions to her 4-piece band: Stevie Burns, Nick Cook, Duncan Lyall, and Damien O'Kane. The on-stage chemistry between these five is a natural alignment - how calming they played and their communication together was family-like.
For any artist, it’s always nice to hear about the writing process for their album, its different for every genre: “While we were making the album, we were trying to give up wine, so it sounds like we put it in the music instead.” The laughter and relatability echoed through the crowd which was one of the many things that made this performance so wonderful.
The creative process behind ‘Hunter Moon’ made it my personal favourite as she opened up and explained that she writes a lot of her songs when she travels to and from gigs, concerts and festivals:
“Wherever we arrive, I look at the nice night sky” and she said one time, she thought of something that has been on my mind ever since: “what if the moon is actually in love with the sun but because they always go around each other, they’ll never meet” The lady in front of me said to her friend: “Wow, that is a lovely thought.”
Her character, engagement and infectious enjoyment on stage were clear for all to see. Playing with her sound, stories and inspiration is refreshing as we heard from her ‘Jenny’, a tale of her childhood, cheering her horse on in a race. And not to forget her unique cover of Oasis’ ‘Don’t Go Away’. She surprised us with a run of quirky song titles, ‘Awkward Annie’ and ‘Hold the Waggins’. Her performance was everything and more that you would expect from such a polished folk singer songwriter and that’s what makes her such a joy to watch and listen to.
Kate Rusby is touring throughout 2019. Details of the dates are on the link below.
The Mystery Reviewer
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