Live review: Kate Nash

Komedia, Brighton Monday, March 8

I’m not a monster, so don’t get scared,” grins [a]Kate Nash[/a], bright blue eyebrows beetling below silver-and-sea-green forehead. If the post-punk sauce-mistress slink of ‘I Just Love You More’ wasn’t a clear enough signal that Nash had changed, tonight will be. Batwing stripy art-dress swinging, she launches into a spittingly furious poem, ‘The Mansion Song’, a neurotic and nasty skewering of scenester slappers. “I read Glamour and The Guardian… I take cocaine… I can get fucked like the best of men”, she barks, grasping her guitar as an ominous synth drone and rumbling bass whirl around her. The poem segues into a stomping, shouting, Slits-ish song, with Kate bawling, “I don’t have to be your baby… you can try and have your way” before hurling lyric sheets out into the crowd.

Not the girl you thought you knew, then; this small show, packed by the rabid, rowdy girl clan that follow Nash everywhere, is a space for her to unfurl new wings, test her strength and try on newly-stitched roles. Playing almost all her new album, ‘My Best Friend Is You’ (and no ‘Foundations’, egad), it’s a bewildering flaunting of many-hued feathers.

“This song is about homophobic pricks,” she announces, introducing ‘I’ve Got A Secret’, a play-time sing-song that builds to a scuzzy, swaggering, YYYs-ish belter, big drums supporting Kate’s newly raw bellow. Lead single ‘Doo Wah Doo’ sports grungy guitar, staccato chords and a sassy beat, while ‘Don’t You Wanna Share The Guilt?’ revels in spoken-word angst and ‘Gorilla Munch’ is dark and moody, Kate dirging out low basslines and intoning “everyone you knew was as vacuous as you”. So overwhelming is the rush of new sounds that ‘I Hate Seagulls’ stands out for that gauche, over-cutesy Regina Spektor-esque lyrical style that could sometimes grate. Stand-out ‘Later On’, though, finds her heartsore and yelling, Kathleen Hanna-style, “later on I cry my stupid eyes out”.

She pants with the effort of her playing, staring out at the crowd with an expression of genuine pain, made all the more intense by the blue brows. The unifying thread between Kates old and new is just that raw, key-thwacking passion; it might be louder and closer to the surface on the new tracks, but it was always there live; ‘Merry Happy’, reminiscent of an indie Victoria Wood on record, climaxes in a furious storm of battering piano, before Kate
ends by hitting random keys with fists like a stropping toddler. No monster, then, but no girl-next-door any more.

Emily Mackay