Grand Opera House
Sunday 30 October 2016

I don’t have any answers, only songs.

It’s a big stage and a big venue to fill, but Ms Rusby managed to reduce it to an intimate Sunday night gig. Touring around the launch of her new ‘Life In A Paper Boat’ album Kate brought her voice and a four piece band to Belfast.

The gig started bang on time, Kate and band marching on to the stage without introduction or fanfare. Right from the beginning they were on form, perfect sound and balance between singer and musicians.

Much of the set was drawn from the new album, commencing with the jaunty ‘Bengamin Bowmaneer’. Alongside the new stuff Kate dipped into her extensive back catalogue for songs such as ‘Cruel’.

Some of the songs are traditional others self penned and very good they are too. ‘The Ardent Shepherdess’, again from the new album, was particularly well received. There were lots of opportunities and encouragement for the audience to sing along at certain points which they did with some skill. Kate directed the singing by instructing the crowd as to key signature, what’s the Yorkshire favourite key?

B flat, it’s A up! ( Say it out loud).

The band consisted of Nick Cooke on accordion, Duncan Lyall on double bass and Damien O’Kane on guitars and banjo. And a new toy for the boys a moog. Not sure that these weren’t best left in the 70s.

While the band was good and filled the sound out superbly it’s really all about Kate’s singing. She sang at least thirteen songs with only the minimum of backing vocals. No mean feat and night after night while touring.

Kate has a relaxed but professional stage presence no doubt honed from twenty-four years of professional singing and touring. Her between-song chat is mostly about her beloved Yorkshire, Barnsley, and her two small daughters. Chatty but not annoying.

A short break and then the second half started with the title track from ‘Life In A Paper Boat’. Kate explained that she had written this song while sitting with her own daughter watching harrowing pictures of a woman trying to carry her child with her on a small boat from Africa to Europe. The singer said she had no answers to the suffering only songs. Powerful stuff.

Other highlights of the second half were ‘Awkward Annie’ and a finishing rendition of ‘Blooming Heather’. The band and singer returned for an encore complete with Halloween capes and masks. A well deserved standing ovation for the very talented performer who puts such effort into her shows.

Final note the ticket prices from £16 to £25 for a singer and four piece band in the Grand Opera House is good value by current standards.

She is welcome back here to sing anytime.