This Is the Kit at the Royal Albert Hall
Kate Stables and her band have been waiting a while to perform but, like many musicians, were postponed by the pandemic. An eagerly anticipated show at the esteemed “big velvety room” (as the singer refers to it) is a win with fans, who enjoy an evening of melodic folk and warm humour.
Greeting the crowd solo on an electric banjo, she starts with Easy on the Thieves from 2017’s Moonshine Freeze; Slider then sees the vocalist joined by her band, including a brass trio (saxophone, trumpet and trombone), bass and lead guitarists. An undeniable highlight, Bulletproof is the softly drummed piece we didn’t know we needed, with its iridescent strings and Stables’s comforting vocals. The stage is an artist’s dream, covered by a wide-ranging set of instruments, giving further breadth to the music. With a cheerful persona, the vocalist is happy with a “posh new hat that makes me feel like Mark Rylance”, eliciting peals of laughter – one of the frequent jokes tonight. Her frank sense of humour wins the audience over, and a lovely complement to the sweet folk songs. Frequently thanking the band members and support act Jesca Hoop, the frontwoman even encourages a spontaneous Mexican wave from fans.
With This Is What You Get (Off Off On, 2020) the band reveal they can just as easily play lively folk alongside the slower-paced tunes; there is also a surprise shimmering guitar riff in the last few seconds that isn’t on the recorded version. Segueing into the eponymously titled following track, pre-recorded pipe sound effects provide the intro – another highlight.
This Is the Kit’s music is a reminder of other art forms, recalling paintings transformed into sonic life. One feels like running in fields of green; the lyrics are beautifully executed and the music refreshing. While Silver John is performed, the visuals display an abstract video of surf, suggesting beaches and oceans with its blues and whites.
Playing this grandest of venues must feel pretty special – an extraordinary achievement for a group who performed in empty rooms, Stables recalls. Today also marks International Women’s Day, and she dedicates Was Magician to “lady wizards” as she wears her handmade lucky third eye. A surprise duet with Hoop is a lovely rendition, with original track Outside of Eden described as a “sex education song”, in keeping with the evening’s quirky comedy. Final standout tracks of the set include Started Again, melancholic and moving, while Moonshine Freeze includes a thrilling brass solo and the stunning Keep Going exhibits beautiful landscapes on screen, transporting listeners to the band’s intimate world.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit This Is the Kit’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Found Out here: