KATE TEMPEST is an artist who has become the talk of every trendy record store and coffee shop across the city. A year ago she was only really known in dark and dusty poetry circles as a spoken word artist with an impressive command of the English language, but now she is much more than that. Tonight in The Kazimier her growing popularity is clearly on display, and the venue is as busy as I have ever seen it. Voices murmur and bodies shuffle in anticipation of getting the best view of the Mercury Award nominee.
Tempest arrives on stage with confidence, spurred on by a raucous cheer from the sea of voices in front of her. She is humble, she is appreciative, and you could even begin to believe that she is a little shy until she picks up the microphone. Tempest is a performer who thrives on intimacy but she has a voice loud enough to fill any space in the UK. From the off she’s in command of the crowd, speaking about inequality, government legislation and generally just how excited she is to be in Liverpool. Whist she raps her way through a tight set, her group create a soundscape of electro/hip hop/dance fusion that carries each song energetically to the next. Tracks like Lonely Daze and Theme From Becky uses Tempest’s gritty pub-chat narrative and squeezes it in-between elegant and heart-felt melodic refrains that create a magical end product. Her songs are powerful, slick and engaging. Unfortunately at times the level of the drum pads and the various electronic sounds compete with the lyricism and very occasionally the brilliantly crafted words are lost. However, on this musical journey, Tempest addresses us at every pause and talks directly to the audience as if we’re all just sat together on the back of a bus, putting the world to rights. Tempest is not somebody who is pretending to be something she isn’t, she’s one of us. The highlight of the evening comes in the form of her critically acclaimed work Brand New Ancients, a spoken-word epic from 2012. Alone with the microphone, the Londoner silences the room and performs the powerful, brilliantly written verse that originally shot her to fame.
Tonight, Kate Tempest has proved that she truly is an artist worthy of a Mercury Award nomination and not just a spoken-word artist giving music a go. She is an exciting rapper with an abundance of talent. As the lights come on, the crowd turn into a queue of people desperate to chat to tonight’s performer and you get the feeling that she will stay around and speak to each and every one of them.