6th June | Fleece
Photos: Callum O’Keefe
On Thursday 6th, Kate Nash took to the stage of The Fleece for the opening night of her 2019 UK tour.
The Menstrual Cramps, the all-female five-piece punk outfit formed in Bristol, opened the show. Draped in mesh and black and red tartan, the group espoused everything McLaren and Westwood dreamed of in their punk revolution. In fact, the essence of the 1970s infused the band’s entire set. The Menstrual Cramps demanded change, rejected the Tory Government, condemned gentrification in Bristol and berated fracking. On top of this, these “angry women” highlighted the urgency with which we should be acting upon contemporary environmental conversation – incredibly topical in the wake of Saturday’s ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protests.
While more instrumentally adept than groups such as X-Ray Spex, Crass and Discharge, The Menstrual Cramps harnessed the spirit of insurrection, prioritising making noise over making music. Although not everyone’s cup of tea, they garnered crowd-wide respect. Giving them a platform says a lot about Nash, not only as an artist, but also as a passionate activist.
Where The Menstrual Cramps answered Corbyn’s calls and threw us ‘back to the ‘70s’, Nash sported a cosmically futuristic image. Decked in a mauve metallic shell dress and space-print leggings, the Nash’s glimmering get-up also clearly drew inspiration from her recent acting stint in the TV series Glow.
Over a decade has passed since Nash’s 2007 debut, Made of Bricks, scored her a Brit, and her commercial success, as she confessed, has “had its ups and downs.” Despite this, as she bounced on stage to the cutting beat of ‘Play’ in front of a sold-out crowd, it appeared that neither time nor recent criticism has blunted the artist’s vitality. The physically taxing opening wobbled Nash’s vocals a little, yet her palpable eagerness to be involved with her fans was humbling. Loyal supporters have been paramount in keeping her musical career afloat, and as a result she made sure to acknowledge the generosity of those who helped to crowdfund her latest record, Yesterday was Forever.
Glancing over the audience, it was easy to question whether or not many people had come simply for ‘that one song’. Indeed, the monumental success of Nash’s breakthrough single ‘Foundations’, which spent five weeks at number two in the charts, has shadowed much of her subsequent material. The buzz that transcended the room as she closed her set with the track proved so tangible that the artist felt compelled to launch herself off the stage, much to the security’s dismay.
Moreover, in showcasing lesser-known songs such as ‘Dickhead’ and her latest release, ‘Trash’, Nash proved herself to be a multifaceted musician, lyricist and performer. In a stripped-back performance of one of her earlier tracks, ‘We Get On’, the artist maintained sincerity, yet veered away from her stereotypically feisty brand of indie-pop, navigating simultaneously potent feelings of anger and sadness in her late teenage years.
This night marked the first official stop on Nash’s UK tour. Above all, it was refreshing to see a Hollywood star, now living in LA, bring so much energy and passion to a modestly-sized audience. While Nash appears to have little intention of drastically shaking up her sound, there clearly remains a healthy appetite for the late noughties in 2019.