As angry clouds of volcanic ash sweep across the country from our dear friends in Iceland (presumably in part-payment for the £400 gazillion they owe us?), an (at times) equally angry Kate Nash is doing likewise, bringing her all new Riot Grrrrllllllllll act to the Hairy Hounds. I can’t believe it’s been three years since her debut but I guess, looking back, all the signs were there. Beneath the cutesy talky talk vocals there was plenty of bitterness...sorry bittahness (yep, must be all those lemon’s she’s been eating). Now she’s come out in praise of Le Tigre and Bikini Kill and, at times, tonight’s gig reminded me of those far off days when Riot Grrrl’s Voodoo Queens reigned supreme (was anyone else out there at their Edwards Gig in 1993? Oh. Just me then).
First up though, and far from angry, was bundle of fun (and mad as a bag full of bees) Brigitte Aphrodite. Wearing what looked like a skirt made of artificial flowers (which proceeded to slide down her thighs until she slipped it off altogether towards the end of the set, revealing what she happily proclaimed were “my big pants!”) she’s part Helen Love, part Carry On era Barbara Windsor. Cop a load of this lyric from ‘She’s a Blue Ice Cream Rink’ “Incey wincey, wider, wider, I used to masturbate over Kit from Knight Rider...it’s true!” I’ve never tried wanking over any vehicle, famous or otherwise, and I doubt whether the local old bill would look too kindly on me trying to crack one off over next door’s Ford Focus but, if it makes me half as unselfconsciously batty as our Brigitte then it might just be worth a try.
Casting aside any thoughts of jizzing over automobiles tonight Kate Nash gave us something old, something new, something borrowed and, with tracks like ‘R & B Song’ and ‘Mansion Song’...nice use of the word song there...it’s always good to remind us what we’re listening to eh?) something blue. The last time I saw Nash a few years back she was a bit slapdash, which was part of her charm. Things haven’t changed that much and, actually, this rough n’ ready feel really suits some of the new, grungier songs better than the older stuff. Relaxed enough to sing snippets of Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ and Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ in between tracks she seemed both excited about the prospect of her new album’s imminent release and, perhaps, a little apprehensive about the reception that some of the new material would get. We had to wait a while for the harder edged tunes and, at first, it was business as normal with new single ‘Do Wah Doo’ in particular coming off like classic Nash. A catchy 60’s girl group take off (not unlike The Pipettes in fact) it’s full of Nash-isms “Everyone thinks she’s a bit of all right, I think that she is not so niiiice. Every guy is looking in her eyes, every guy is...” (wait for it, can you guess what’s coming next...yep) “...checking out her thighs”. I must admit that’s not the bit of a lady that I’m normally attracted to, but there we go, maybe that’s just me. Clearly I’m more interested in bonnets and door panels these days anyway. ‘Foundations’ went on to get the reception and sing along you’d expect and, to be fair, it remains arguably her best track. But the more interesting stuff (for me at least) were the new songs. ‘Kiss That Grrrl’, like’ Doo Wah Doo’ has a bit of a 60’s vibe, ‘I Hate Seagulls’ was stripped back, just Kate, her guitar and a list of her least favourite things prefaced by a justifiably impassioned rant against homophobia (judging by the conversation I overheard on a bus coming over to tonight’s gig it’s alive and well out there). These fairly Nash-tural songs made the jarring contrast of the some of her other tracks even more noticeable. Take ‘I Just Love You More’, a loud, thrashy love song that (on top of the obvious Riot Grrrl influences) reminded me of early PJ Harvey in places. Then there’s Mansion Song. Starting off as a spoken word piece it seems to be Kate’s take on the groupie culture and...well...it’s pretty grim stuff “I wanna be fucked and then rolled over, ‘cause I’m an independent woman of the 21st Century” and “I can get fucked like the best of men, like the best of men, like the worst of pain inflicted on another young girl again” spat Kate venomously before the squalling musical bit began. After that even ‘Merry Happy’ from her debut album seemed to have a harder edge, ending up with Kate bashing the crap out of her battered keyboard.
Where does she go from here? Well there’s not enough full on feisty female rock around right now and, judging by some of tonight’s noisy highlights, I can see her shaving off her hair, getting a tattoo of Lydia Lunch on her chest and forming an all female Bikini Kill tribute band. Whilst it might not please all of her fans that could...wait for it...make me ‘Merry Happy’ indeed.