It was a friendly affair as Kate Stables returned to an old stomping ground for a sold-out performance in the West Country
There’s a moment at the beginning of This Is The Kit’s set at the Bristol Beacon where, gently strumming the chords of opener ‘Goodbye Bite’, Kate Stables stops singing to excitedly welcome two friends she has spotted arriving late at the back of the room.
The recently renovated venue is big, especially when filled to a 2000 person capacity as it is tonight, most of whom turning around as if to also greet the same friends. But this endearing moment sets the tone for the rest of the evening; feeling more like a local gathering. To be fair, Stables did begin This Is The Kit while living in Bristol some 20 years ago, before moving to Paris in 2007, so the guest list was likely an especially long one on this stop as part of a UK tour in support of her latest album Careful Of Your Keepers.
But beyond this fact, throughout the evening the singer-songwriter makes efforts to quash any sense of a fourth wall, interspersing a setlist with a kind of commentary on the evening from her perspective. At one point an audience member faints, and you can see Stables’ moment of hesitation, before letting the song play on as other members of the crowd take them to safety. “It’s always hard to know what to do in those situations,” she admits. “But it’s great you can all help each other, look out for each other.”
At another point she stops to promote a friend’s upcoming concert for Mothers in Music, though as a mother herself in music she admits she will be busy celebrating her daughter’s birthday at an IDLES concert in Paris. Later on, she allows for some of the city’s taste for crowd participation by taking a song request for ‘Nits’.
The songs sound welcoming too, importantly. The twinkle of guitars on the comforting ‘More Change’ feel especially scintillating. The fluttering banjo that leads ‘Take You To Sleep’ is beguiling, leading us into a bittersweet state haunted by a trio of sax, trombone and flugelhorns before a soporific soothing.
This full band certainly adds dynamism to Stables’ quietly jazzy form of folk music, interlacing hypnotically on ‘Scabby Heads And Legs’ and set closer ‘Keep Going’. But tonight in Bristol the conversational, familiar tone that Stables emanates enhances the warmth that characterising her songwriting.