As I made my way to the Concorde 2 on a chilly February evening to see Kate Tempest, I genuinely had no idea what to expect – I was pretty sure however that it was going to be a decent live performance at least due to Tempests’ involvement in the theatrical side of things, for as most people might not know – Tempest is also an; acclaimed playwright (whose recent play ‘Wasted’ did two extensive nationwide tours, and two sell-out runs at the Roundhouse in London!), poet, rapper, songwriter and performer all bundled into one human being. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how much Kate Tempest’s performance would both impress and move me emotionally.
Tempest’s show began the same way that most other good live gigs begin – with an excellent banger of a tune and a lot of energy – however, the moment her performance really caught my attention (in a way that no other artist I’ve seen) was when she gave her first ‘speech’. Tempest came to the front of the stage and spoke directly to us in a way that made us all feel like she personally knew every single person in the room. She began by explaining how much it truly meant to her that we were all there (the show sold out extremely quickly!) – she said it was something she will never take for granted in her career and how grateful (and indeed shocked) she was that she’d got to where she is.
In terms of line-up – Kate Tempest had two drummers live on stage (one of which she’s known since primary school and are best friends) and another singer/rapper. This style of line-up worked really well with her music as it gave a lot of visual and audible energy to the live performance whilst allowing Tempest to remain in the spotlight.
In between songs Tempest would deliver a beautifully raw and natural ‘rant’ about the current state of society whilst never claiming anything the way a politician might – but making us all question our actions in life and how we interact with each other. “EMPATHY” she shouted “Empathy is what we’re missing in the world– we all need to learn to empathise with everyone rather than judging them for who they are or aren’t.” When she finished, there was a tremendous roar from the audience which made you almost feel as though you were at the start of a revolution. It truly brought the whole audience together and made us all feel united watching Tempest’s performance. Tempest had a few of these moments throughout her performance – which was just the right amount of interjection for us to leave the show questioning ourselves, our life and our society yet feeling elated with the buzz of watching fantastic live music.
There was the classic point that happens at the end of most gigs – when the house lights don’t go up and we know there’s an encore in the pipeline. I was absolutely gutted when this happened at Kate Tempest’s show as I felt that the concept of an ‘encore’ was totally against everything she stands for! However, when she came back on stage (to everyone’s delight) rather than what I had expected to come, Tempest surprised me yet again by encoring with a poem she wrote (‘War Music’) rather than another music filled, pop-influenced, feel-good number. It was by far the most powerful and visually stimulating encores I’ve ever seen. It certainly brought a very serious (yet incredibly inspiring) end to a fantastic gig.
Whilst I really enjoyed Kate Tempest’s debut album ‘Everybody Down’ – I believe that her real strength lies in her live performance. It’s not often you’re able to come away from a cracking gig filled with great music yet realise that you’ve learnt (and questioned) something about yourself in the process – we all left more aware, and with more empathy than when we walked in.