Review: Kate Nash @ Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club

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Taster gigs are always a bit of a funny one. On one hand you’re excited to hear your favourite artists new material, but on another (and let’s be honest here) after 5 songs you can’t sing along to, all you really want the artist to do is blast out one you know. On Thursday, Harrow heroine Kate Nash was queen of the taster gig, performing on the heart backlit stage of the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.

Having recently posted shouty, raw demos online, we arrived at the gig with the worry that Kate had fallen into the 2nd album revolt against everything that made her popular in the first place. And indeed there were elements of that. Instead of bashing the keys of her piano, much of the new material is played tentatively on the guitar with Kate looking visibly relieved that she played the right notes at the end of each song. Then there’s ‘Mansion Song’, a poem cum riot grrrl anthem, which we’re told even a Glasgow audience seemed scared of. On the other end of the scale, her new single – the Motown inspired, could have been Pipettes anthem, – Do Wah Do, showcases everything we love about Kate. That is slightly daft lyrics sung in an endearing yet slightly shambolic way.

Endearing yet shambolic is indeed the phrase of choice to describe this gig. Her effortless comfort with the audience allows her to cajole us into dancing without too much fear, but while attempting to teach us the lyrics to new songs, it’s almost a relief when the place is plunged into darkness as a power cut strikes during the 2nd outing of anti-homophobia ditty ‘I’ve Got A Secret’. Despite previously informing us that her biggest hit ‘Foundations’ wasn’t on the setlist, Kate was suddenly forced to play this and two other songs from her debut just so the audience could join in while mics and lights were out.

If it was the estuary accent that divided the nation first time round, it’s the songs that will divide people on this 2nd album. Tentatively played at this gig, we’ve a feeling Bernard Butler’s lush production will make them sound more like the girl we know when the album is released next month.

Kate Nash next plays London on 22 April at Village Underground

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