Over at the lovely St Johns on Bethnal Green, I was fortunate enough to see not just one, but two of my favourite singer/songwriters that I discovered in 2015. Infact, Kathryn Joseph and Krisitin McClement, whom opened for her, were my nigh on joint albums of the year for 2015, but I’d only discovered Joseph this time last year so everything was brand new.
Firstly then Kristin McClement opened with just her pitch perfect voice and a guitar to finger pick away on. Her music when stripped back to just the two elements has a swaying beautiful to it, which is made all the darker with her gentle delivery of noir folk songs that twinkle in the darkness. She played tracks from her album and some new material from her upcoming album she is working on. Highlights included the delicate beauty of “Blackfin Gulls” as it winds up to its climax and the minimalist Spanish tinged “Planks”. What it lacked in the originals clever album production was more than made up for by the intimate space that Kristin is able to create as she waltzes you into gentle oblivion.
Kathryn Joseph took to the stage with her guest percussionist for an amazing set that covered her debut album, the recently released b-sides and some future material. Between occasional bits of banter about being drunk in church and her vocal style being the opposite of McClement’s being “fucking cruel” she poured out song after song with acid tongued poise and emotional flair. Her percussionist was not only creating the beats but adding plenty of soundscaping alongside some synth work with a deep saw wave acting as the bass line to some of the tracks. It really added extra grunt and depth to the whole concert.
Personal highlights for me were “The Worm”, “The Weary” and “The Mouth” as they showcase a woman whose prepared to smash the piano, let it all flow from her fingers and throat and hit you in a visceral way. It was fascinating to see the audience around me in a mixture of not daring to blink or closing their eyes and swaying their heads to the sirens call. What excited me more were the brand new closing tracks that were full on attacks and immediate hits. Kathryn’s sound is quirky and unapologetic and we all felt like we’d experienced something unique and otherworldly by the time the concert came to an end.
Oh – and a shot of whiskey for all on St Andrews day. She’s a true Scot! If you get the chance – see both of these ladies live for experiences you won’t forget.