Live review: This is the Kit, Falmouth, March 4th – West Country meets West Coast and proves a very fine blend

This is the Kit, Falmouth, March 4th

WE’RE not quite there, you know, not yet; not quite. Back to normal, that is.

It’s taken me until early March to lose my 2022 gig cherry, mostly because the ‘rona still lingers as a particularly unwelcome surprise in the nooks and crannies of life, ready to spring out with its super-infectious, gap-toothed grin, and screw things up.

I had a couple of decent shows pencilled in to begin the year and get the ears into shape and ready for hopefully, what will prove a better year for live music since before that series of Wuhan wet market unfortunate events: Scottish folk trio Lau, in the loftily arched, medieval setting of Bodmin’s St Petroc’s Parish Church, and Penelope Isles right here in Falmouth’s The Cornish Bank; both, directly or indirectly, abruptly cascaded back to the autumn thanks to our viral new kid on the block. Me, fully: grrr. And oh, as for Snapped Ankles at this same venue? Holds hand up: yup, clean forgot about it until too late in the (literal) day.

So, into spring and finally chance to re-engage with some guitar strings ‘n’ things at The Cornish Bank, rapidly acceding to the crown of the best thing that’s happened to the Cornish music scene since … ooh, since Red River Dialect’s lovely David Morris first wrenched the River Fal delta back into the nation’s regular gig calendars almost 15 years ago now, booking people like Six Organs of Admittance and Acid Mothers Temple, the creme of freak/psych-folk thinking, for Miss Peapod’s just a couple of clicks up the way in Penryn.

And it’s a pretty delish bill for early March here, with Kate Stables’ Bristol by way of Winchester and gay Paree indie-folk project This is the Kit arriving in town for the first time – but already, as we shall see, not the last.

And it’s a subtly altered Cornish Bank one steps into, this eve; the tacked-on temporary wooden foyer has gone, and in its place there’s a portholed vestibule with extra balcony space atop; some of the stageside fernery has gone, but it has such a buzz, this venue, and especially so tonight, as this date sold right the hell out before the sun had completed much of its transit of the sky that day, and even before the especially commissioned posters for the evening had been so much as been penned to paper. And yup, its packed. Proper packed, and so expectant.

This is the Kit’s Kate Stables

I know, I know. Indie-folk, you say? Well, yup. It’s both accurate and wholly inaccurate, isn’t it, as easy genre shorthand. And that’s shown tonight ad the current five-piece incarnation (it was seven the night before in Exeter, with a brace of brass, if you will) of This is the Kit knock it out of the park with aplomb.

Kate begins at the beginning with a solo take on “Two Wooden Spoons” hushing the boozy murmur with presence, bringing us all here assembled to where she wants us to be; chills us down. It is, of course, the song that first really broke the band in the public’s affection, spinning out of Sunday Best’s Folk Off chillout comp, on which it rubbed shoulders with Sufjan, Vashti, James Yorkston and others, as a (these days, ker-ching) 7″. And it’s a beautiful beginning to the set, Kate’s voice bell-clear in that way that’s always said of Karen Carpenter; and actually, she’s a pretty damn hot whistler as well, trilling like a bird on that reflective melody.

And whereas perhaps their latest album, Off Off On, hasn’t quite captured the media zeitgeist in the way that the preceding Moonshine Freeze did – witness just how often the title track and the brilliant “Hotter Colder” rotated across your brain on 6 Music, hooking in, soundtracking and improving your day – it’s chock full of nuance and goodies and a musical spin perhaps more West Coast than West Country, as Jesse – of either the ‘D Vernon’ or ‘Morningstar’ nomenclatural persuasion, depending on what you
read – skirls out feedbacky guitar lines that variously call to mind Peter Green, Terry Bickers and the
much-missed David Roback; actually, there’s even a track which recalls Mazzy Star’s “Blue Flower”.

The title track of the new album is an ethereally psych odyssey of several shifts and breakdowns; “No Such Thing” has an easy, Fleetwood Mac grace, flows around and through you and carries you with it; “Keep Going” is part-Mendips, part-Appalachians, casts Kate as our very own Meg Baird; dreamy, swirling, but so sharply focused.

But there’s plenty of room for older favourites, too: “The Turnip”, from 2010’s Wriggle Out The Restless gets a lovely, on-point airing; there’s shouts for the restrained, chugging shimmer of “Earthquake”, to which Kate, in time, accedes; and of course, of course there’s time for “Moonshine Freeze”.

And it’s nigh-on impossible to get to the bar, such is the eagerness to get closer, just a few people hanging back barside and in the little sideroom; and bejesus it’s hot, so damn hot, and thus in direct contrast to This is the Kit’s appearance at St Petroc’s in Bodmin in January 2018, at which Kate had us all doing calesthenics to warm up; and the room has that sweet, hormonal tang of sweat. It’s like how gigs used to be. It is how gigs used to be. It’s how gigs are now, as well. Welcome back.

Kate’s announcement of the final song and that tune’s conclusion lead to an absolutely thunderous clamour for more! more!; the floorboards pound and creak and resonate with genuine need for them not to be done yet. And it’s the angular and cyclical “Hotter Colder” with which they kick out the jams one final time tonight – the song that crystallises for you that if indeed, Kate, Rozi and the band are ‘indie-folk’, then it’s indie-folk in the way Kristen Hersh is; innovative with the tradition, playing with its limitations, unafraid to bring either the weird or a cracking, beautiful melody, and usually simultaneously.

And be glad that the song has no ending, for even though they have, in this moment, departed, This is the Kit actually return to Cornwall in a month for the inaugural Wanderfal Festival, at which they’ll grace our senses once more, and this time supplemented over two days by Rozi Plain solo, The Wytches, Martha Tilston, ICHI and the stupendous Paddy Steer, among a host of other names. In short: tasty.

To err once, we’ll let you off; to miss them a second time in such quick succession, well … that’s just negligent. On your head and soul be it.

This is the Kit’s tour continues at the Royal Albert Hall this Tuesday, March 8th, before proceeding to Nottingham, Liverpool, Sunderland and beyond; bag your ticket over at the band’s live page. Their latest album, Off Off On, is also out now and is available from your friendly local record emporium and, of course, the band themselves.

Previous Live Review: Alkaline Trio / Taking Back Sunday - O2 Academy, Birmingham 05.03.2022 Plus Gallery
Next Film Review: Great Freedom

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.