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Kate Tempest @ Shotgun Carousel, The Vaults, London, 17/09/16

by AdamTait
AdamTait
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on 22 September 2016 in Live
Rating 9/10



Everybody Down might have been Kate Tempest's debut record, but the excitement surrounding the performer pre-dates it by some stretch.

Did you see her when she was touring Brand New Ancients, though? Mate, her spoken word was something else.

And so on, and such forth.

But the early portion of her career, her poetic development, was something to behold. And so was Everybody Down. And so, judging by early signs, will be Let Them Eat Chaos.

Seemingly the natural and very worth successor to Everybody Down, Let Them Eat Chaos keeps Tempest's knack for narrative at the fore, still wonderfully paired with Dan Carey's dark, shifting electro.

But here her storytelling seems far more observational in nature, rooted around seven strangers awake at the same early morning moment rather than alternating perspective of a story's various players.

And it's all the more personal for it, especially seen in the intimate settings of a unannounced showcase at Shotgun Carousel's end of festival season party. The tales hit closer to home. The witty metaphors ring truer.
 
It might seem a hackneyed point to make, but there's an extra dimension to Tempest when seen in the flesh. The endearing tonal matter-of-factness that make her recorded music so swiftly accessible is replaced by an engrossing sense of overspilling passion live.

Insistence that phones remain pocketed - and an exasperated "what did I just say" to the audience members who ignored it - might draw raised eyebrows when issued by others. But everything the south London poet asks for is entirely justifies by what she gives back.

She might implore the audience to be present in every sense for her performance, but no one seems more present than Tempest herself. And whether by intention or technical mishap, the instrument-free middle portion of 'Europe Is Lost', Tempest's relentless overview of the world's problems, is stark evidence of this. Eye's closed, gently swaying, slightly right of centre-stage as she reels off the troubling facts of modern life, it's easy to see why she is subject to such constant attention and acclaim.

These aren't just stories Tempest wants to tell, or even stories she simply wants you to hear. They're tales she wants you to live, to be there for and care about. And when she's stood in front of you it's hard not to.

Because ultimately, Tempest's stories are about the importance of seeing the world from others' perspectives, exposing the extraordinary in the mundane and normalising the bizarre. They're about overcoming divisive differences of opinion or experience, and understanding the machinations and institutions that lead to them. They're about empathising with bitterness, and apathy, and paranoia, and hedonism, and estrangement.

Admittedly, the bombastic, vibrant attire of the Shotgun Carousel crowd presents something of a juxtaposition. It's quickly and unshakeably apparent that Tempest's music, that this album, is an almost depressingly frank commentary on the world around us.

But likewise it's about not letting that daunting situation overwhelm us. And where better to quietly unveil it, to try it out, than in a setting so resolutely positive and friendly?



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