Review: Kate Tempest
If Kate Tempest runs for Prime Minister somewhere down the line, I would a) be unsurprised and b) be sure she would do a stellar job. Witnessing her performance last week confirmed her outstanding ca- pabilities as an orator, in addition to her technical sophistication as a composer. Charisma and sincerity were the standout qualities in her perfor- mance at Concorde 2 last week, which successfully held together an extraordinarily attentive and considerate crowd. Each musical number, deriving from her latest album Everybody Down, was followed by an interlude of spoken word performance. The profundity of these interludes stemmed from the naturalness of Kate’s voice; she has a natural ability to give spoken word a musical sensi- bility in her rhythm and playful diction. I enjoyed these moments the most, when her lyrics stood alone without a backing track, vulnerable to the ears of her audience. Her ability to seamlessly execute the poems from memory, without hesitation, is commendable. The language is, at times, hilarious. Tempest gloriously cuts between the borders of high and low; she can allude to canonical works in one line, and transition to amusing observations of mundane day-to-day existence in the next.
However, the greatest message I took from Tempest was one of empathy. The humorous everyday witticisms towards suddenly turned to a moving speech on the overarching darkness we live in and ultimately neglect. She spoke openly about the today’s climate: the alienating and un-empathetic political state of affairs. Whilst this momentarily broke the illusion of the performance space she inhabited, it didn’t prohibit my enjoyment of the event overall. Tempest forced me to step back and think about the world in a non-anthropocentric way, encouraging everyone to drop an ego-driven perspective and be more hospitable to others. This is important now more than ever, she argues, at a time when certain parties encourage social alienation through shame and guilt.
There was something democratic about the whole thing. It didn’t feel grossly self-indulgent nor was it overly politicized. This was facilitated by her self-awareness as a public speaker. Tempest is uniquely explicit about the nature of her job and essentially deconstructed the position of power one has when given a microphone and willing audience. By openly discussing the speaker- audience dynamics, Tempest made me feel at ease as a spectator and listener. She encouraged a critical engagement whilst the uplifting electronic beats and overwhelming use of strobe lights allowed people to enjoy the show in ease. This was one of those instances where it felt like there was a genuine creative connection between the performer and their audience. In the end, Tempest’s humility and passion dominated the music.Whilst the poetry can speak for itself, sometimes hearing it from the mind it bore from beats the letters on a page.