Kate Nash first came to Minneapolis almost exactly ten years ago, for a First Avenue show supporting her sensation of a debut album, Made of Bricks. Reviewing the show for the Twin Cities Daily Planet, I described her overall onstage affect as “coy, demure, and slightly prim.”
No more. Last night Nash and and her three-piece band hit the Fine Line Music Cafe for a show that was so exuberant, it was almost giddy. She’s found sublime confidence onstage, and the rapturous audience were themselves in such high spirits, the feedback loop just brought the mood higher and higher. By the time set closer “Merry Happy” came around, Nash and her band were laughing so hard they could hardly start the song.
Over her decade-plus career, Nash has fought for the right to express herself on her own terms, to her true fans. The huge success of Made of Bricks — which was even bigger in Nash’s native U.K. — led to some disorienting transitions, as Nash split with her label and experienced personal ups and downs that she opens up about in some of the lyrics on her new album Yesterday Was Forever.
Last night, she split her set almost evenly between songs from Made of Bricks and Yesterday Was Forever, with just a quick detour into 2013’s Girl Talk and nothing at all from 2010’s superb My Best Friend Is You. Reinventing the timeless Made of Bricks tracks for her new power trio, the singer-songwriter seemed to be drawing both connections and contrasts between who she was then and who she is now.
Clad in a jumpsuit with a snakeskin-like print, Nash cavorted back and forth across the stage, mostly just rocking the mic but occasionally sitting at a keyboard. The artist whose relationship with her live audiences once seemed thorny has now opened up to the point where when a guy in back yelled “I’ve got blisters on me fingers!” after “Foundations” (a reference to the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”), Nash paused for him to repeat it so she could make out what he was saying.
The band crammed an impressive stage set onto the Fine Line’s compact stage, complete with intelligent lighting and back-wall projections that were mostly fun and unobtrusive, most effectively used for a slowly rising sun during first encore “Today.”
Beyond her musical inventiveness and gift for indelible melodies, Nash’s enduring appeal owes to her endless relatability. During “We Get On,” a Made of Bricks story-song that has its narrator getting drunk and locking herself in the bathroom after seeing her crush kissing another girl. In the Fine Line crowd, one woman said to her friends, “That’s my life!”
The positive energy in the room wasn’t reserved exclusively for the headliner. Opener Miya Folick, whose entrancing sound suggests Björk going dreampop after listening to a lot of Velvet Underground, remarked on how warmly she was being received. “I hope you know how special you are!” she remarked happily. “This is not normal.”
Kate Nash setlist
Play (Made of Bricks, 2007)
Foundations [excerpt] (Made of Bricks)
Mouthwash (Made of Bricks)
Life in Pink (Yesterday Was Forever, 2018)
Sister (Girl Talk, 2013)
Dickhead (Made of Bricks)
Agenda (Agenda EP, 2017)
We Get On (Made of Bricks)
Mariella (Made of Bricks)
Twisted Up (Yesterday Was Forever)
Musical Theatre (Yesterday Was Forever)
Nicest Thing (Made of Bricks)
Always Shining (Yesterday Was Forever)
Hate You (Yesterday Was Forever)
Foundations [full song] (Made of Bricks)
Merry Happy (Made of Bricks)
Today (Yesterday Was Forever)
Birds (Made of Bricks)