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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

Katie Kittermaster / Danny Starr - 229 London

From four songs at an open night at The Bedford to her first headline show at 229, we have chronicled the meteoric rise of Katie Kittermaster and it has been something to behold. Tonight will also see her first full band show which promises to be interesting as we find out in which direction she will go to create the best sound to accompany her songs in a live environment. Ahead of the show she is certainly no diva and is to be found wandering around the venue openly chatting to all and sundry - if she is nervous she is doing a fine job of hiding it.

In a nice touch she takes to the stage to welcome us all and indeed introduce the first act - Danny Starr.

Danny was to be an inspired opener, with an excellent line in well crafted lyrics that grabbed the attention of the listener from the off. The opener "Our Design" being an immediate example

"When was the last time you looked in my eyes?

Felt a shiver run down your spine,

Blind to the flaws in our design"

This was heavy stuff for an opener

"I start to cry, you start to stutter

The fault ain't yours, it's mine, you mutter"

It brought 229 to a deathly silence, and there was added drama from Danny's delivery, just by changing the volume as he sang the words.

Danny's explanation as to the inspiration behind "Plastic Magic" was hilarious and the fact that it included the unlikely words "Botulinum toxin" in it, the proper phrase for Botox, made it all the more endearing. A comment on the perils of cosmetic surgery, wrapped up with some lyrics guaranteed to raise a smile as you listen. and a cracking tune.

Each song revealed more of Danny's marvelous turn of phrase and also revealed him as great company to be with. "Ease My Mind" was accompanied by some suitably dramatic guitar playing, which again had 229 hanging on every well written word.

"The scent of confession - becomes your possession as you stumble in late

Is this just an illusion? oh my minds in confusion but you love it this way"

With a big crooner chorus this was Danny putting his heart on the line "if you don't love me just say so" and it was captivating stuff. His potential next single "Losing Sight" showed yet another side of Danny's delivery, this time a more soulful approach occasionally taking it to a delightfully high pitch. The frustration of covid was brought to bear in "Belong" but it was nothing to the pain expressed in the older song "Railway". The set was to close with "Elixir" which Danny openly admitted he was mispronouncing throughout the song, complete with a singalong it was a great way to finish things off

With Katie due any moment a quick glance around the crowd showed it to be as you might expect quite youthful but the amount of gigs that Katie has played had also attracted a following from the older generations. it is easy to see how Katie's songs chime with a younger audience, quite often they seem conversational recalling events as you might with your friends or they are about situations that they are all experiencing together. For the older spectators the chance to see and recognise a rising talent was enough.

Kicking things off with "The Problem", it must have been heartwarming for Katie to hear so many people singing her lyrics back to her. The sound was reassuringly of a real band and Katie immediately sounded the better for it. Wasting no time before reeling out the big tunes, she unwrapped the mic from its stand for "T Shirt" and demonstrated just how much stage craft she has picked up over all those gigs sometimes dropping her voice to barely a whisper while at others orchestrating the audience clapping along

For "One Of A Kind", Katie occasionally slightly drifted away from her spoken style and was happy to do some more conventional singing on this piece of pure pop. Being a fan of Ed Sheeran, Katie's first cover of the night came "Castle On The Hill", a tune so well known that she was able to take time out to cinduct the audience as they sang along.

Rarely do the words "Here is a new song" get greeted with quite the cheer of the one for "Origami Butterfly" the unlikely tale of love in a Doctors surgery mingled with the Chinese art of paper folding, however this song has been well road tested It's another conversational style song as the events are played back exactly as they happened. Not many "new" songs have an audience that already know every word however Katie's played happily lived every moment with her as it they had each received a folded Lepidoptera with a message on it.

In a slight departure for the evening, "Friends" started as a delicate piano ballad, pondering on the impossibility of maintaining a relationship with an ex. It gradually builds as the rest of the band and shows another level to Katie's writing while keeping some of the elements that keep her unique. A bit of deja vu occurred as we next saw Katie sing one of the songs that had first impressed us, "Sunny Afternoon" except now it is replete with the 229 choir singing along "Don't worry dear".

Her last single "Out Of Love", saw her take an imaginary drag, as she recalled a feckless boyfriend more interested in smoking weed than turning up to her shows. The addition of the full band and the removal of a lot of the electronica of the recorded version really transformed this song while retaining its essential dance rhythms. A second cover, her break up anthem, Calum Scott's "Dancing On My Own" finished to the cry of "We love you Katie!". Another successful slice of dance music with attitude came with "Lukewarm Lover" once again given some additional oomph with real drumming providing the back beat.

The real drama of the evening was to come with the next song "It's Not Just You" which began with an open honest admission from Katie of having mental health issues a few years earlier, and of her work going into schools to talk about it, which is both admirable and so important. If her fans who must view Katie's life as being idyllic can hear that even she has had problems, it might just be that one bit of additional support they need. With only a guitar and Katie, this song comes from the heart and she really seemed to be reliving each line of the lyric as she sang it and just for a few seconds, the emotions of the song, perhaps of the evening if not the whole day married to hearing her own words being echoed back by the audience just caused a momentary wobble, but true professional that she is ,Katie quickly managed to pull things together and complete the song, and we all came out loving her just that little bit more.

The closing section would see "She Should Be Here", with Katie once again sharing little slices of life regaling the stories of times with her ex friend as if she were sitting with friends in the pub. The evening was to close with her new single "Good Liars" , that would be available just a few hours later, once again the live version to these ears sounding all the better from the warmth of having a real drummer providing the rhythm. It was to prove the perfect end to a great evening , of what less we forget was Katie's first show with a full band. She'll return to the capital in 2022 for an even bigger show and her star will surely have risen even higher by them.




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