Music / Spoken Word review: Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest PIC: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images
Kate Tempest PIC: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images
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Even though she moved only a little onstage, there was as much performance as poetry about Kate Tempest’s idiosyncratic spoken word show. It was there in the infectious passion of her delivery, which had the audience whooping along and Tempest taken aback by the welcome she received. It was implicit in the way she used incisive observation to paint the virtual scenery for her hour-long drama, lifted wholesale from her current concept album, Let Them Eat Chaos. And it was atmospherically soundtracked by her three-piece backing band who cherrypicked the best of electronic music – claustrophobic trip-hop, euphoric rave, itchy, skittering rhythms, industrial electro funk – from the past few decades to produce the most evocative backdrop to her story.

Kate Tempest ****

Glasgow School of Art

Let Them Eat Chaos is a portmanteau tale of “seven perfect strangers” who all live in the same set of inner city flats and all find themselves awake, for different reasons, at 4:18am one night. This is Tempest’s snapshot of broken Britain and it was all the more powerful because of her empathy and her eye for detail, which was further enhanced by the music. The woozy dreamscape which accompanied her account of the superficially sorted Bradley underlined his dislocated state (“life’s just a thing that he does”). But in the end Tempest rejected “the myth of the individual” and drew her characters out of doors for a communal experience of a cleansing rainstorm and a happy – or at least hopeful – ending to her moving, intelligent, angry ode.