A staple of the Irish music scene since the late 90s, it’s been a while since David Kitt’s last solo record – he’s spent the last few years immersed in other projects including recording with Tindersticks. Tonight, he’s showcasing Yous, his first solo album in seven years in The Sugar Club. The room fills up early, red velvet couches taken extra, seats are added to the front of the venue. The crowd have a uniform look, old enough that their first summers of the 00s were filled with the lo-fi sunshine of Small Moments and The Big Romance, young enough for skinny jeans and a woollen collar on a denim jacket. They produce a nominee for most pointless sentence ever uttered – “That bloke has got the same hair as the guy who was supposed to play the baddie in The Bodyguard but didn’t in the end”. Brilliantly useless observations, surely the ripest fruit of the public gathering.
Kitt has played shows where he runs through a whole album in sequence before but tonight he’s taken the bold move of doing it with an album that nobody has heard. He takes to the stage accompanied only by violinist Margie Jean Lewis for the first two songs. It’s a testament to his unique song writing and brilliant use of sonic space that the new songs seem immediately familiar. His voice married with the isolated note pairings he plucks from his guitar provides safe sanctuary for the audience. The band, including Robbie Kitt and Richie Egan, take to the stage from the third song on with members leaving and re-joining intermittently as needed.
As the band kicks in, Kitt breaks into that trademark off kilter two-step that suggests he’s hearing a hidden rhythm. He announces to the crowd that the sound check earlier today was the band’s first real rehearsal, the performance suggests otherwise. Having yet to hear the recorded version of the new album in its entirety it’s hard to gauge but in a live setting each song stands by itself. Beautifully arranged, genre-straddling, well written songs. Each one strong enough to stand individually, the context its parent album, not necessary for it to flourish.
After Yous has taken its maiden voyage there’s a real sense of communal joy in the room. Kitt comes back on stage in celebratory mood to play a few more songs joined by different members of the band at times. A solo rendition of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ and ‘You Know What I Want to Know’ (two modern Dublin folk songs) are received particularly well. The show closes with the gentlest display of destructive feedback using an electric guitar you’re likely to see. Kitt and his band receive a well-deserved standing ovation.
Seven years is a long gap between records but Kitt has been so active with other projects he’s never really had his nose out of the bowl for long. As the punters standing in the Sugar Club aisle demonstrate, he’s managed to maintain a fan base in the time between records. If the recorded version of Yous is anywhere near as good as tonight’s live performance he’s sure to pick up plenty more upon its release.
David Kitt photographed for State by Mark Earley