It’s only a few hundred yards away, but Kate Nash has travelled far since she introduced herself to Brighton at Redroaster five years ago. She pushed all our wrong buttons at the time (BRIT schooling? ‘The new Lily Allen’? Nein danke), and, coupled with our misunderstanding of ‘Foundations’’ message, we dismissed her.
Fortunately, we were wrong. Nash’s two albums revealed a brave, unique voice in British pop, putting her money where her mouth is with her laudable Rock’n’Roll For Girls After-School Club initiative. Even so, like you, we were blindsided by the grunge screaming of ‘Under-Estimate The Girl’ last month. Written and recorded in under 24 hours, Nash’s comeback track has racked up hundreds of YouTube dislikes, and countless depressingly sexist reactions by boorish users of the NME and Drowned In Sound message boards.
Well, guess what? Nash’s fanbase – and The Haunt is rammed tonight – don’t give a shit. Entering the stage to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Nash straps on a bass, her band kick into Breeders-esque newbie ‘All Talk’, and it all comes together. Nash’s riot grrrl influences, already apparent on 2010’s excellent ’My Best Friend Is You’, inform all her new music, but her pop instincts keep them smart and accessible, nailing Bikini Kill empowerment to Runaways tunes.
It’s not completely unfamiliar stuff tonight. With Nash switching to guitar (no keyboards this tour), a singalong ‘Kiss That Grrrl’ works brightly with the new band arrangement. ‘Do-Wah-Doo’ doesn’t scale the multi-tracked heights of the single version, but, back in the set again, ‘Foundations’ is buoyant.
There are further surprises, with a bouncing bout of MCing in ‘Rap For Rejection’, before Nash introduces her final song with an impassioned pro-diversity, anti-celebrity magazine speech. It’s ‘Under-Estimate The Girl’, received ecstatically by the all-ages (predominantly young, predominantly female) crowd.
Once the women leave the stage most of the audience leave the room without expecting an encore, but Nash reappears after a while to send the stragglers home with an unaccompanied ‘Lullaby For An Insomniac’. It’s a downbeat end to an impressive night.
Haters will still scoff, but Kate Nash is a more important pop star than they’ll ever grasp. Maximum respect.
Haunt, Thursday 28th June 2012
Words by Stuart Huggett
Photos by Chris Hutchison