Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 09/11/2012 | Kate Rusby – Derngate Theatre, Northampton

09/11/2012 | Kate Rusby – Derngate Theatre, Northampton

Jo Cox


Clichéd as it undoubtedly sounds, tonight Kate Rusby proved why she has made such a success of singing folk songs for the past 20 years. Firstly, she’s selected some corking tunes. Secondly, she’s selected some corking collaborators. Both are exemplified by her 20 year anniversary album – a reworking of some of her best loved tracks with an impressive array of guest musicians. Everyone from her hero Neil Young, who apparently made her cry (with happiness, I presume she meant) to rising stars including American bluegrass performer Sarah Jarosz, who she and I both implore you to find out more about.

Tonight she and the band, which include her husband Damien O’Kane and Dervish whistler Liam Kelly, but none of the ‘special’ guests from the London and Sheffield shows (Eddi Reader et al), work their way through a large part of this album. However, although they tell us these are the new versions, it is often hard to tell them apart from their usual live re-workings, which always vary and augment their recorded counterparts. Not that this is in any way a criticism. If anything, it shows how varied and inventive the instrumentation and arrangements are whenever Kate Rusby tours. It should also be noted that it is understandably quite difficult to replicate versions of songs which all have a special guest accompaniment, without an unmanageable entourage.

Rusby herself is as charming as ever, bouncing around like an over excited child. In the first half she takes us through The Elfin Knight, The Good Man and The Fairest Of All Yarrow (or Yazza, as she apparently terms it), flapping with her instrument and remarking “[I’ve] only been doing this for 20 years – you’d think I could manage a guitar strap”, quite without realising that the innocence that belies her age is also part of what has endeared her to so many fans. As is customary now, there is a break at the end of the first half for Damien O’Kane’s solo performance, in this case of The Banks Of The Bann, followed by a not altogether successful attempt at audience participation for Walk The Road.

After the interval, the audience are granted my personal highlight Planets, followed in quick succession by I Courted A Sailor which seems, by the number of cheers, to be everyone else’s.  Another interlude for an instrumental with the Mystery Inch, and then a frenetic closing performance of Awkward Annie – the most noticeably true to the 20 album reworking, and an encore cool down of Wandering Soul. I leave, as utterly enamoured with Kate Rusby as the first time I heard her, and look forward to the 30 album and tour.