This is the Kit - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

This is the Kit - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2013-04-16

Despite recommendations from friends it wasn’t until I saw bassist Rozi Plain touring her own material that I finally decided to investigate This is the Kit further.  Currently touring as a trio but described as “Kate Stables and whoever joins her” the band specialises in captivating folk-pop. Much like Plain’s material Stables songwriting is warm and understated with a melancholic yet meditative tone running through every song. Having seen the fantastic Rozi Plain perform a couple of times, I walked into the Brudenell ready to be immersed in a little bit of Sunday night musical magic.

Before This is the Kit take to the stage the mood is set with a performance from folk musician, Andy Skellam. It’s hard to believe now but it was actually pretty sunny last week and the night saw Skellam start with a cover of an old folk song, the appropriately titled ‘Ode to Summer’. While Skellam is a modest and somewhat shy performer, it’s immediately clear that he’s an incredibly gifted musician.

His voice gently soars over intricate finger-picking, weaving a spell over the audience who’ve sat on the floor in front of the stage to absorb every note. Skellam relaxes into the performance and chats a little between songs, explaining that the gorgeous ‘I Can See my Breath’ recalls the time he fell through the ice on a frozen lake. The final song sees This is the Kit become his backing band yet its Skellam’s disarmingly beautiful songwriting that remains centre stage.

The trio are all onstage yet the opening This is the Kit song see’s Stables perform solo, accompanied by a banjo and those distinctively smooth vocals. There’s a pleasingly rootsy quality to Stables music, especially in this stripped-back, unaccompanied form. Yet while her music certainly contains elements of a more pastoral folk it remains fresh, bright and untethered to tradition. The room falls silent as the song works its magic and it’s an incredibly affecting way to start the show.

There’s a very natural, relaxed and instinctive interplay between the band when they play together that seems to hypnotise the whole room.  Plain’s vocals fit perfectly with Stable’s, like two pieces of some ornate, interlocking puzzle as they produce some subtle, spellbinding harmonies to accompany each piece. The compositions are often subtly complex yet the trio look relaxed and at home on stage, the music retaining an organic and unflustered feel throughout.  This is music that works particularly well live, each beautifully observed lyric or musical shift more apparent than before.

Stables songwriting sits at the heart of each performance, with songs from last years Bashed Out sounding particularly special. The dreamlike ‘Misunderstandings’ takes its time to unravel and reminds me a little of Low in its innate understanding of space and restraint. ‘Silver John’ is even more lovely than its recorded version while ‘Bashed Out’ is a tranquil, bruised and somewhat haunting meditation as they sing, “and blessed are those who see and are silent”.  The songs are undeniably gentle yet never simply designed to pass you by.  

The sound seems to create a cocoon around the Brudenell, pulling us closer to the bands mysterious yet comforting world. They encore with two covers and the ever gorgeous ‘Two Wooden Spoons’ and I leave the Brudenell markedly happier than when I arrived. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what made a performance quite so special but you know it when you’re there. Sunday night musical magic at its finest. 

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