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Live / stage review

Emotional Buckaroo: This Is The Kit at Crookes Social Club

Careful Of Your Keepers everyone – Kate Stables & Co. mesmerise and enthral.

31 January 2024 at
Steve Hunting.

Kate Stables’ Paris-based project This Is The Kit are currently touring Careful Of Your Keepers, a record notable for being produced by Gruff Rhys who apparently acted as "tonesetter", always attentive to the band's distinct sound. Stables' visionary approach to songwriting has long been supported and nurtured by a host of fellow musicians, notably Guy Garvey of Elbow as well as the aforementioned Rhys, and DJs including Marc Riley.

First up on a windy, miserable Crookes night, support act Dominie Hooper, a singer-songwriter from Dartmoor (produced by Stables incidentally), showcased two tracks ‘Hastings’ and ‘Hurricane’ that showed immense promise. Watch out for her.

Taking the stage, Kate's warmth and all-embracing charm is evident from the get-go. The band evidently have a lot of confidence in their new LP, with nine of its ten tracks played out to an audience happy to absorb almost by osmosis the delicious mix of Kate's jangly guitar and banjo, Rozi Plain's super-melodic bass runs, Jamie Whitby-Coles' skittering, cymbal restrained drums and Neil Smith's psychedelic guitar, interjecting and enhancing the music with surgical precision from opener ‘Goodbye Bite’ to the crowd-selected ‘Earthquake’.

Stables has a track on LP Moonshine Freeze (she plays the title track of course – a real crowd-pleaser) called ‘Riddled With Ticks’, and this clear interest in parasitic arachnid-based analogy is mirrored in the excellently titled ‘Scabby Head and Legs’, where the lyric "Who's to blame / How can we exist?" raises questions about the struggles and decisions that influence our perspectives. Enchanting.

The highlights? For this reviewer the moody, off-kilter ‘This Is When The Sky Gets Big’, the clearly personal ‘Dibs’ with its line "We did not have dibs on both our hearts", and the title track ‘Careful Of Your Keepers’ with its seductive cascading guitar. But it's the shuffling ‘Doomed or More Doomed’ that really grabs hold, and its pithy line "Getting involved / emotional Buckaroo" that nicely sums up Stables’ core approach to the complexity of human relationships, light and shade, good and bad.

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