Kate Nash: Merry Happy at the Apollo
Kate Nash - a fan of dancing at discos and also cheese on toast.
Also In The News
Today's Budget from Alistair Darling is being tipped as one of the most stretched in years.
Friday, 14, Mar 2008 04:26
It's a female-dominated crowd at London's Hammersmith Apollo and for all the booty-shaking in unison to 60s standards, you may as well be at a Hairspray matinee. When two tracks from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack are played, it's not just clear how much the audience is being catered to, but also the extent to which Kate Nash's image has changed since her initial arrival on the scene.
With her earthy, homespun lyrics, she seemed made for a career catering to indie-minded London pub audiences, being referenced by the LDN is a Victim duo on their snide underground hit and building a reputation as something close to a female Mike Skinner, albeit with a singing voice. Though she retains some of those sensibilities by including the wry rhythms of Beans on Toast on the bill, the massive success of Foundations and its ensuing T4 on the Beach ubiquity has turned Nash into a resolutely pop artist, as is patently obvious when surveying the makeup of the audience.
She enters to Stop (In the Name of Love) before a sheepish wave and a hilariously north London cry of "oh my God, I've got a present!" when handed something by a band mate.
A baby-faced band back a pink-shirted Nash and they burst into a frenetic version of Pumpkin Soup, much faster than the recorded counterpart. S**t Song and We Get On follow, the latter renewed with vigour and far better than the album version, while Birds is conversational, London-centric, grounded in authenticity and a worthy centrepiece to the show.
A glacial, expansive version of Nicest Thing arrives next, commendably reminiscent of the soundscapes honed by Explosions in the Sky. The song remains as heartbreaking and honest as ever, but as the crowd - many of whom, to be brutally honest, would never have gone near Nash without Foundations' success - talk over its subtle melody, one thing is abundantly clear. Fame has come far too fast for her. The Hammersmith Apollo is a big venue, make no mistake, and while she's certainly successful enough to fill it, the fragile wonder of her songs is lost as people chatter absent-mindedly over the quieter tracks and unnecessary extra bombast is added.
An eastern-tinged Dickhead follows, but the audience's mimicking of Nash's words doesn't disguise the fact that it's a weak, simplistic song, far below the par what she's capable of. Skeleton Song is frantic, but loses some of the chorus' lilt because of the pace and the thud of a second drum kit, though a jerky, head-rush of a climax sweeps all along with it.
The huge influence of Regina Spektor practically screams from every pore of Mariella, Mouthwash is superb and infectious - ironically - while Nash announces the arrival of the song everyone's been waiting for with a sotto voce "here it is... ".
No matter your reservations about the unnecessary speed of many of the tracks, the overwhelming size of the venue or the utter horror of a misfiring punky new song Nash announces - its refrain of "you don't have to suck dick to succeed" proving that someone's been listening to too many of her boyfriend's records - Foundations is still as wise, warm and funny as ever.
Black Kids and Beans on Toast retake the stage to take part in a raucous cover of the former's I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You, before Nash closes with the grown-up vigour of Merry Happy, a heartwarming tale of love lost and wisdom gained.
The Brits, NME awards and general public adoration are richly deserved but her management might want to consider that booking a venue of this size for an artist who specialises in music so subtle isn't the best idea. And as for that punk effort - steer well clear, Kate.