I’m not one to make bold claims, but the guy next to me in the O2 urinals was. “I’m so excited I can barely piss” he says, “Kate Tempest, I just can’t wait for her to get into her flow. She’s the essence of British hip-hop, the vanilla essence” (he was also one to make bad jokes). I awkwardly nod along, finish my wee and wish him a goodnight before heading into the venue. Though my active bladdered, loose mouthed friend may have been slightly hyperbolic with his claims, his enthusiasm for the 30 year old Londoner’s music was totally justified. Kate Tempest was something special that night.
The show is a performance of her new album “Let Them Eat Chaos”, a powerful, poetic attack on the 'beigeness' of life and a warning that humanity is going the wrong way. Heavy stuff, but with the support of producer Dan Carey and the rest of her band you can dance to her social commentary as if she was singing about taking ecstasy in the Spanish archipelagos, to prove to an international superstar DJ that she was cool.
Her delivery is wrought with passion; from time to time her inflection differs from the album and normally serious lines are given a comical edge. “Europe is Lost” is totally austere however, its relevance resonates to the post Brexit crowd as the band falls silent midway through and Tempest delivers the most scaving of her lyrics:
“And about them immigrants? I can't stand them
Mostly, I mind my own business
They’re only coming over here to get rich, it’s a sickness
England! England! Patriotism!
And you wonder why kids want to die for religion?”
The rest of the album is delivered faultlessly: “We Die” is heartbreaking, “Whoops” is funny and “Pictures On A Screen” is somehow elevated even further above its album equivalent. But the climax of the album and final track ,“Tunnel Vision”, is the one that leaves the biggest wake.
It’s uncomfortable, no one wants to think about the things society’s ignoring: immigration, segregation and as Tempest so tastefully puts it “massacre, massacre, massacre”.
But the hardest thing for the audience to hear is what we consume our minds with instead, “work, drinks, heartbreak”, “our nails and our wedding plans”. Too much truth.
“The myth of the individual has left us disconnected, lost, and pitiful
I’m out in the rain
It’s a cold night in London
And I’m screaming at my loved ones to wake up and love more
I’m pleading with my loved ones to wake up and love more”
Is how she leaves us. The love in the room is real. The cheering doesn’t stop for for five minutes until a weeping and appreciative Tempest returns. “I’ve been working on a new album” she says, “this is a song from it".
For fucks sake.
The song’s totally mediocre, she should’ve probably just not done it. Granted, I only heard it once but there was really nothing that grabbed me about it.
Oh, well. I can forgive her, prior to the encore, the performance that evening was one of the best and most impassioned I’ve ever seen. Please, if you haven’t listened Kate Tempest before, do.
eview: Daniel Brashaw