Kate Rusby, Grand Theatre, Blackpool
NOT being a true folk music fan, I’ve missed years of Kate Rusby, even when she played in Blackpool over a year ago and before that at Fleetwood Folk Festival.
I’d heard only great things, though, so a night at the Grand Theatre on her latest tour was another chance finally to get to hear what all the fuss was about.
It was clear from the start when she ambled on, all 60-deniers and sensible shoes, said ‘hellooou’ in her broad Barnsley accent and launched immediately into her whimsical line in chatter that, as a first-timer, I was in the minority here. This was a friend dropping in. Most of her audience was way more familiar than I was with The Mockingbird, Green Fields, Awkward Annie and Wandering Soul, even though many of the evening’s songs were from her most recent album, released in November, her first made up entirely of self-penned material.
The online Twittering began waxing lyrical minutes after she left the stage, after a two-hour set underpinned by her superb backing musicians on bazooka, double bass (or was it a cello), guitar, banjo and a miniature sized accordion-type instrument she described as a melodean. The priority was substance over style, as Kate brought the chequered ensemble together with a few anecdotes about her dog, Doris and her toddler daughter Daisy, whose father, Irish singer and musician Damien O’Kane, played a guitar just a few feet away.
He really came into his own on the banjo as part of a rousing trio of instrumental numbers that, while giving her voice a break, offered an opportunity to enjoy a little more of what he and fellow band members Julian Sutton, Malcolm Stitt and Kevin Maguire had brought to the show.
It was a skilled and rousing performance and while the clear strong voice of this ‘Barnsley Nightingale’ means she can more than hold her own as a solo artist, the talents of this motley group of musicians underlined the credibility of a performer whose casual, comical approach belies her true perfectionism.
Like she said, as her husband filled in several minutes while she tuned her guitar, ‘it’s only ‘cos I want it to be perfect’. And, despite a minor but nattering cough between numbers, it really was.