Kate Nash at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
The past year has not been kind to Kate Nash. After suffering personal tragedy and being dropped from her label, Nash has reinvented herself as a punk princess and is back on tour with self-released album Girl Talk. We headed to the third leg at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to witness the new Nash for ourselves.
As the singer walks on stage her audience of excitable, almost entirely female fans explode with teenage screams. These are quickly silenced by the melancholy opening of Lullaby for an Insomniac: “Another day goes by and I don’t wash my hair”. It’s an introspective start and subdues the atmosphere, but after a quick costume change Nash returns with her all-female band and rocks out to punchy fan favourite, Sister.
This is Kate Nash in her new Riot Grrrl guise but the trademark tones of her voice are unmistakable, even underneath the layers of angsty guitar. For faux-aggressive Fri-End, Nash adopts an X-Ray Spexs-meets-Hole yell that lacks authenticity, but the girly melody so popular in her first album is still there. This isn’t punk, but for emotional teenage girls it is empowering. Nash is the anti-Miley in her ridiculously enormous white lace teddy, and the audience love every chord.
More like a friend than an idol, Nash graciously thanks the audience for their support and loyalty, and shares personal stories between songs. The catchy OMYGOD! is preceded by an explanation of its conception (“I was on holiday, on a beautiful beach and I should have been happy, but I wasn’t”) that shows a vulnerability behind her new image.
The Girl Talk tracks go down well, but the crowd really get going with tunes from Nash’s first and most successful album, Made of Bricks. Even those standing at the back nod along to Mouthwash, a brilliantly funked-up version of Pumpkin Soup and Foundations, which brings with it some strangely polite crowd-surfing from Nash’s fans.
In a cathartic act of self-affirmation Nash bravely stage dives before returning for an encore. She ends the set in a perfect pop bubble with Merry Happy, a complete contrast to her solitary opening. As a whole, the performance feels like a transition, cleverly marking her survival against the odds and her hopeful return. For now her success is far from certain, but her loyal fans seem more than happy to join her for the ride.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information and future events visit Kate Nash’s website here.
Watch the video for Fri-End here: