Kate Gilbertson single launch with support from Katie Richardson
Thursday 23rd March 2017 – Black Box, Belfast
To celebrate the release of her new single ‘Will You Wait’, Kate Gilbertson headlined the Black Box’s Green Room on Thursday night, accompanied by support act Katie Richardson. Originally hailing from Perth, Australia, Gilbertson showcased her collection of original songs which stem from the heart and speak from the soul.
The Green Room is in a league of its own as far as a gig venue goes. Personal and intimate, the perfect setting to connect with an audience. The cosy atmosphere with mismatching chairs, hand written menus and fairy lights around the stage gives the feeling of being in a close friend’s living room or an extremely special place – reserved for just you and the artist. Gig goers, seated at their own tables around the room, create a lull of chattering excitement in anticipation for the opening act with a pint in hand ready to enjoy some musical excellence for the evening.
The first of the two acts is Katie Richardson, who dubbed the evening ‘A Night of the Kates’. Looking completely at ease on the stage, Richardson greets the crowd and sets into her first song, creating an ambience that sets a mellow, relaxed and all in all, enjoyable tone for the night. Richardson plays a short set using just her incredible vocals and acoustic guitar as the instruments. Her songs all tell a story for example, ‘Push Down’ the second song of the night was about wanting more, emanating honesty and truth, you can feel the emotion as she belts out the carefully written lyrics. Her penultimate song is ‘To Be Beautiful’, really quite a meaningful deep, slow song which tells the tale of trying to be beautiful and not understanding or knowing why.
Richardson’s sound almost resembles that of The Civil Wars with their base line of melodic acoustic guitar riffs and meaningful vocals. This shows through on her last song of the evening, ‘Savages’, which was delivered with a hard, almost aggressive strum and a determination that can be likened to anthem-type songs. ‘Savages’ is the kind of tune which makes you feel passion and subtle anger with an intense strum and build up to the final verse and chorus, it proves difficult not to slap a hand to the table with this song. Her set was warmly welcomed, getting the tables filled with excitement to watch the next artist debut her new single.
Picking up where Katie Richardson left off, Kate Gilbertson takes the stage, tunes up and gets ready to ‘wow’. The room quiets to a murmur and she greets the crowd, ‘…good evening everyone’. Gilbertson includes a disclaimer warning that she has lost her voice this evening but she will still crack on.
Gilbertson looks completely at home on the Green Room stage, perfectly lit by the surrounding soft glow of the fairy lights and backdrop of windows looking out into the street beyond. Opening her set, the crowd are immediately met by the unique tone of her voice which is accompanied by a raspy edge. The artist’s frustration was evident as she slightly struggled to hit the high notes but performed beautifully nonetheless.
‘Olive Street’ tells the heart-warming story of a meeting place with a crush, which rang clear and true with the audience. Her songs offer an insight into her personality, showing the vulnerability and impact a moment can imprint on her life, translating that into song in quite a touching way.
Tonight she reckons she sounds more Nina Simone than Jodie Mitchell with her performance, both artists she has taken inspiration from. An anecdote accompanies her next song; when she first came here she visited a little town called Enniskillen, fell in love with the water and wrote a lullaby about it. Her newer songs almost suggest a country influence but they heavily remind me of artists such as Ben Howard who come into their own with just a guitar and voice.
Gilbertson takes a moment to thank those she works with, reiterating that working in Stranmillis’ 5a Coffee Shop has allowed her to meet people who have have provided the biggest help to her as a musician and a friend. She therefore dedicates ‘Part of Me’ to those who have helped her develop and who have imprinted on her life in a positive way. The sharp strums of the acoustic guitar coupled with the meaningful lyrics of the song channel Gilbertson’s emotion and provide such a pleasurable listening experience for the crowd. It is evident that Gilbertson has found a locality and creative hub that she identifies with and has solace in, something that’s reflected in the crowd’s support.
‘Over Oceans’, shows her ties to home, over oceans from Ireland to Australia and back. Gilbertson’s last song of the evening was performed with two others, a brother and sister duo from Derry. The sound of her acoustic guitar and multi-tonal voice accompanied by a keyboard rhythm, bass line and backing vocal provided further depth to the music she was performing.
She thanks the crowd for sticking with her and ‘this terrible husk’ although the chants for an encore suggests they didn’t mind. The final song is dedicated to somebody who makes her feel like home and it was all sorts of loveliness to end the night on a high with the audience fully in. The set draws to a close with Gilbertson’s fans and friends congratulating her on the successful performance.
Putting yourself ‘out there’ as an artist can be one of the most daunting obstacles to overcome. It takes a lot of confidence and courage, as well as a firm belief in yourself and what you are capable of. The release of any new material warrants the anticipation (and fear) of how well received it will be. Kate Gilbertson’s single launch gig was a collection of her best work to date and she hurdled that obstacle like an Olympian. Considering Gilbertson’s struggle with losing her voice, she still performed impeccably well and has proven herself worthy of gathering crowds with her unique tones and story-telling songs.