It has been ten years since Kate Nash gatecrashed the charts with her kitchen sink relationship breakdown hit, Foundations, followed up swiftly with a platinum-selling debut album and a Brit Award for Best Female, which set her up nicely to follow her equally relatable contemporary Adele to superstardom. But Nash has always been rougher round the edges and what Kate did next was to court cult rather than commercial success. Her negative experiences of the music industry have sent this consistently interesting songwriter, commentator and performer in a defiantly independent direction, supported by a dedicated fanbase who respond to her activism as well as her music.
Kate Nash 3stars
Oran Mor, Glasgow
This opening night of her latest tour felt at points more like a (re)union of minds than a performance (although Nash is not short on the charismatic skills) with her audience singing her words back at her within seconds of kick-off and Nash communing with the crowd in return.
As rendered by her own fearsome but friendly girl band, Nash’s songs follow the evergreen girl group blueprint of documenting the good, bad and ugly of relationships - her intro music was Lesley Gore’s liberated You Don’t Own Me, while the unfettered punk energy of her own tunes often belied the anger and angst she has ploughed into her lyrics, be it the pure pop rockout of Mouthwash or the increasingly frenetic obsessive thrashing plea of OMYGOD!
Such harnessed chaos contrasted with the funky and flirtatious Pumpkin Soup and the unabashed twee romanticism of Birds, which is more gauche spoken word than song. Going with the flow, she responded to audience heckles for Mariella, dusting off this cautionary fable about the perils of speaking out. Nash knows this well enough for herself but thankfully she won’t shut up about issues close to her heart, introducing new song Musical Theatre with some frank self-disclosure about her mental health problems over the years.
Another new track Agenda, from her forthcoming fourth album, needs some bedding in, but Foundations retains its everygirl/guy conversational freshness a decade on, clearly resonating with the next generation of Nash fans, some of whom look like they would still have been in primary school when the song was first released, but readily crowded onstage to pogo along to the cathartic rage and epic riffing of set closer Underestimate The Girl. Do so at your peril.