Aaah, this was such a good gig. I had lovely front row seats too (thanks to booking tickets in May, pretty much as soon as the gig was announced) which meant Kate and the band were little more than 12 feet away from me. I've been quite lucky with seats when watching Kate, but last night's was perfect - though that strangely didn't stop some rather odd bloke about 4 seats down from me peering at Kate with theatre binoculars every so often?!
The music was divine, and naturally being a Christmas concert the emphasis was on carols as traditionally sung to different arrangements in and around the pubs of South Yorkshire each weekend from Armistice Day to New Year's Day. This tradition stems from the Victorian era, when the rather stuffy Church naturally deemed these carols and their singers too rowdy! And it's good to know this tradition still thrives to this day, in both those pubs and in Kate taking the songs on the road.
At 40 this year and after 21 years as a professional folk singer Kate is utterly sublime and at her peak. Her banter, her asides and general cuteness is completely infectious for the audience. She was made up to show us all her Yorkshire Tea mug (is there any other tea?!) which she bought at services, and she was full of sympathy describing a tragic but amusing street vignette earlier that day in Liverpool; a lady who accidentally dropped her Gregg's Pasty on the floor after taking just one bite. But perhaps her funniest story of the night was the one she recounted about an earlier gig in Chesterfield; a bizarre and amusing tale about a man in the audience who had earlier asked for a set list and a key for each song to be performed in. Kate duly obliged and found out the reason why such information was required when they commenced the first song - he'd brought his own trumpet and happily played along with the band from the stalls!
The regular 'Boys Diddle' occurred, allowing Kate a little break in the second half as hubby Damien and the band performed a medley of tunes - with some festive riffing thrown in - at breakneck almost jazzy speed via banjo, accordion, double bass and guitar. The banter continued here, with Damien's dry deadpan Coleraine accent informing us how Julian, the lanky Geordie accordion player's tune Mac The Horse had received an alteration regarding its title to become My Lovely Horse, in honour of the Father Ted episode, and how his own song Dancing in Puddles stemmed from his and Kate's eldest daughter Daisy's habit of doing just that, thanks to Peppa Pig. "I want to kill Peppa Pig" he informed dryly "And all its family. Especially the dad"
It was just a fabulous night, as expected. The only downside? I had to beat a hasty retreat halfway through the last song of the encore to ensure I caught my train at 10 past 10 (the final train of the evening, the 10 past 11, had become a dreaded rail replacement bus service. Ugh, the bane of my life those things. Every time I go anywhere via the rail service, there's a bloody bus laid on somewhere. I was determined to avoid it this time, which meant leaving early unfortunately)
But....I've bagged the Live Christmas Concert DVD, recorded at Harrogate as a Christmas prezzie, so I can experience it all over again anytime!