Is it wrong for Brighton Source to review gigs in Lewes? That question can probably be answered by the fact that This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables felt obliged to survey the audience as to whether the attendees at her gig at the Con Club had come from Brighton, Lewes or Other places. The Brighton and Lewes hands were probably equally split – although there was a sizeable response for those coming from further afield too.
The band’s reputation has mushroomed with the release of their most recent album, their fourth, ‘Moonshine Frieze’ so it was no surprise that this gig sold out in a matter of weeks after it was announced. The heightened attention is well-deserved and follows a successful gig at Concorde2 last autumn. Kate Stables couldn’t hide her enthusiasm for playing what must feel like home-from-home now, although she claimed she was lost for words to adequately describe her feelings.
This Is The Kit’s set began with some of the softer songs from the last album and its predecessors but then picked up the pace with the album’s title track and the beautiful ‘Misunderstanding’ from 2015’s ‘Bashed Out’. A short solo spot was followed by the mysterious ‘By My Demon Eye’ and ‘Two Wooden Spoons’ taken from her first album, now ten years old but recently covered by support act and band member Emma Gatrill.
This Is The Kit have carved out a special place for themselves, creating a sound that’s quite unique – drawing on traditional folk song but pulled through a modern lens and the inimitable musings of Kate Stables’ mind. Amongst a range of other indeterminate influences, these ears caught echoes of reggae in the almost effortless playing of the band, and elements of post-rock too. Stables has the kind of laid-back easy voice that can carry almost any lyric and manages to combine a special warmth with a deceptively simple intimacy.
The final three songs of the main set were played with extrordinary verve and vigour, at long last letting guitarist Neil Smith loose on some dynamic fretwork. ‘Cold And Got Colder’ (from ‘Bashed out’), the mesmerising ‘Solid Grease’ (“Things get said, things get don’t, hold it in, let it go”) and ‘Hotter Colder’ (also from ‘Moonshine Frieze’) provided a stunning finale but there was time for an encore starting with an astounding version of the band’s first album’s ‘Greasy Goose’. The band ended with a rousing electric ‘Bashed Out’ from the album of the same name, with its rousing lyrics of onboard travails providing an uplifting metaphor for life and a satisfying way to finish an enchanting set.
Support came from This Is The Kit sometime-cornet-player Emma Gatrill, along with her partner Marcus Hamblett who also contributed some stunning horn parts to the headliner’s set. Gatrill’s solo work is based around her atmospheric harp and beautiful vocals, providing the bedrock for her impressive songs. This evening, accompanied by guitar-based sonic effects from Hamblett, particularly noteworthy were the sensuous ‘Skin’ and the title track from her album ‘Cocoon’, released on the Japanese Flau label. Her set also included a superb cover of Bjork’s ‘Hyperballad’.
Lewes Constitutional Club, Saturday 27th January 2018
Words and photos by Jon Southcoasting