Of all the things you might expect to find at a Kate Nash gig, the least of it was her to prance onstage in a white studded jumpsuit that would put Grace Jones to shame. Same sugar-sweet voice, same singsong cockney tones, different girl slinking about the stage of The Academy. Almost three years on from Made of Bricks, the now-22 year-old Nash seems to have outgrown her audience, at least on the outside. The marauding crowds of sugared-up 15 year olds don’t seem to care, and scream their approval as she kicks into the plinky, bouncing ‘Paris’ from her yet-to-be-released second album My Best Friend Is You.
New single ‘Doo-Wah-Doo’ strictly adheres to the tried-and-tested Nash formula of insanely catchy staccato vocals and soaringly poppy chorus, now with added 60’s girl band references, and by the time she gets to ‘Mouthwash’ the mainly-female audience have lost it and started throwing their clothes onstage – almost in solidarity and acknowledgement of Kate’s sartorial influence on them. “It’s like a walk-in wardrobe up here!” she sighs at one point, having taken off her huge gold wedges and placed them on her keyboard.
It almost descends into playschool attention-seeking when Nash attempts to start the low-key ‘I Hate Seagulls’, but is continuously interrupted by an over-zealous audience member who is demanding his shirt back from her bassist. (“I hate RUDE ARROGANT BASTARDS”, she purrs during the song, to a roar of approval.) At times, it seems as though Nash is painfully aware of the audience she attracts, and while she courts it by agreeing to play fan favourites ‘Foundations’ and ‘Birds’, the latter during the encore, it’s clear she’s also had her Slits and Bikini Kill records on repeat over the past 3 years. This is never more obviously than when she starts to apologise before the tirade-ridden, Gil Scott-Heron influenced ‘Oh Jay’. (“Please don’t get upset, guys, ‘cos it’s not about me.”, she warns beforehand.) There’s even a follow up to ‘Dickhead’, a very-similar sounding ‘Wanker’, and at one point a bra burning occurs, to everyone’s delight.
While it’s clear that Nash is maturing into one of the more important female artists of the past decade, it’s also obvious that her appeal lies with a very specific demographic, who may or may not appreciate the turn her style seems to be taken. And almost in keeping with this thought, she finishes, safely enough, with ‘Pumpkin Soup’, the most anodyne and commercial song from her debut album. “I can’t believe she did ‘Dickhead’,” mutters a befringed teenage boy edging down the stairs. His blonde female friend tuts and rolls her eyes scornfully. “She did ‘WANKER’, not ‘Dickhead’.” If this is the face of modern female empowerment, I think we’ll be okay, somehow.
Photos by Sara Devine.