KATE NASH wowed the Manchester crowds back in April of this year, and she’s back in town with her uber-talented all-female backing band. The Manchester Pride programme includes a photo of her pre-riot grrrl and a more recent photo – an image evolution which is raising a lot of eyebrows for those Pride punters who have yet to see her transformation into what the more in-the-know observers claim to be “who she always was and wanted to be.” For those who haven’t yet figured out that what they are about to witness on the main arena stage is not the “Foundations” girl of old are in for a real treat.
Meeting Kate briefly at her hotel for a new Pussy Riot support video, she gives away nerves but exhilaration at the thought of how the crowds are going to take the new format. One thing I love about Kate is the way she can switch without any signal from the slightly overwhelmed reclusive artist one moment, to (when something sparks her interest) the feisty heart-on-sleeve social commentator the next. There’s a quiet strength and sharp wit underlying her, and that’s partly why she is adored and respected by the fans who have stuck with her. But, she’s also now attracting a new crowd of fans who have fallen in love with her impassioned philosophies and wild stage antics, her live rock sound falling perfectly in sync with the high energy of her stupendously skilled backing band: Linda Buratto on lead guitar, Emma Hughes on Bass, and Fern Ford on drums. We’re looking forward to seeing some ‘real’ music at Manchester Pride, and here it comes. “How are the inebriated dance-obsessed crowds going to react to the new Kate Nash?” indeed…
The daylight is fading as Nash and co. take over the stage to great applause and whoops. They’ve been given a great time slot, as the lights switch on and the atmosphere changes – it’s more than a little symbolic of the transitioning crowd response as the set moves on. Kate’s tartan heart-adorned dress (with every dramatic twirl, mini-plush-hearts are falling off, which she eventually decides to hurl out to the crowd) and the band’s pink outfitted, chaotic hair look just go to make the performance all the more memorable. So, they’ve gone a bit ‘cabaret’ today, but their sound is as fierce and attention-drawing as ever.
The audience doesn’t know quite how to respond at first, with only the front few rows pogoing with hands in the air. The stunned silence and jaws wide-open response of the remaining section of the crowd continues for a few more tracks, but as Kate chats more and appeals to the crowd to appreciate the wonderful talent of her backing band, and the more that the crowd gets used to the new Kate Nash, the more they are endeared towards the new sound and fresh stage energy. This is a professionally tight and no-holds-barred live performance, and once it’s sunk in with the audience that there’s more to Kate Nash than previously met the eyes, they are finally absorbed into the band’s set. You can’t but help think that they’re far too good for this lineup and that they’ve stolen the show. It tickles me no end that they precede the original Sugababes. In any event, it’s difficult to deny that they would have smashed the stage no matter what time slot they were given.
There’s no doubt that Kate Nash is certainly at ease on stage. She laps up the limelight with her band. She’s chatting an awful lot in between the tracks now, and some people in the crowd are getting ratty about it. She’s decided it’s the Kate Nash show, and personally I admire her balls and strength of mind and love the fact that she is making the most of her time up there to have fun and engage the crowd in her thoughts on homophobia and general human behaviour. They’re a great live band and she knows it. She certainly knows that they’re better than most of the disposable commercially hyped bands in the UK, and that they’re made for the riot grrrl movement in the States. It’s frustrating to hear the complaints because if they were an all-male band you can guarantee the crowds would be going wild for them regardless of quality.
Kate absorbs whatever love is projected to her, and can’t wait to jump down into the pit and greet fans. Not so sure about the Wicked homage but it’s a crowd-pleaser and well executed. And she does fluff up “Foundations” part-way through, having to stop in her tracks for a moment, but she’s having such a great time that nobody really notices. All in all, they leave behind a stunned crowd and become one of the event’s hot conversation topics.
The band have certainly left an impression and can happily add Manchester Pride to their ‘done’ list. What I’m more interested in observing is the direction that the band chooses to go from now and how Kate Nash will navigate the dramatic changes in the music industry. One thing is for sure: turbulent and potentially exciting times are ahead for Kate Nash.