The first time I saw Kate Nash, was at King Tuts in Glasgow in 2006. She performed in front of a modest crowd of 30 people – at the most – and I had feared after taking two years out to write and record her second album that it might be a case of deja-vu, with the exception of the venue.
The intimate sized tour had only been announced roughly two weeks before it kicked off in Glasgow. My fears however, were soon put to rest. The venue was Classic Grand, a 500 capacity venue in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre and although not sold out or even cramped beyond the first four rows, the atmosphere was exuberant, full of anticipation for the headline act of the night, Kate Nash.
Nash took to the stage, her image drastically altered from last we saw her. She has ditched the colourful kitsch in favour of a striking dark alternative look. A convict striped black and white bat-winged frock; matched with black opaque tights and black heeled boots; a notable change from the customary bare feet normally on show. Her hair and make-up are mature looking as well, a Lego-man like bob, killer red lippy and thick red knitted wrist bands to match.
The usually galas Nash looked nervous as she took to the stage, perhaps because she knew the crowd would not be prepared for the sound of the set that was to follow. Nash tossed the old prettier than pop songs about dancing at discos, eating cheese on toast; dodging ticket inspectors and falling in love, (songs that she manages to translate with brilliant simplicity), in favour of psychedelic surf guitar and songs about self loathing. Then she appeared take on the roll of teacher, giving the audience lessons in how to become more punk with remarks such as, “I can’t remember how to play – but fuck it” ; and just in case the crowd did not participate, Nash dished out about 100 lyric sheets for ‘Mansion Song’, arguably the most alternative song of the night. It started in a punky-art like spoken word then sped up into a barrage of abuse and cursing till the drums crashed in with Nash repeatedly screeching “I don’t have to be your baby”. At times it felt as if I were at some sort of alternative dramatic arts night, the ones were people snap instead of clap and drink coffee instead of alcohol; at other times, with the appearance of songs such as ‘Mouthwash’, ‘Merry Happy’ and ‘The Seagull Song’, I was reminded I was at a Kate Nash gig.
Tonight’s preview performance, consisting heavily of songs from forthcoming album, ‘My Best Friend Is You’, was a move as bold as her lippy. Nash who has always been received as the Marmite of the pop world, has moved beyond her realms of comfort and into the stark contrasting world of alternative music, full of dark lyrics and over-riding surf guitars with hints of influence from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The material showcased was more like an extension of Kate Nash’s first single, ‘Caroline’s a Victim’, rather than the crowd pleasing, number 2 chart hit, ‘Foundations’, which did not make an appearance.
Punchy piano pop songs out, alternative cryptic songs in.