16 December 2010


It's a good long while since Shirley and I went to a live concert together but last night we did just that. Venue - Sheffield's marvellous City Hall. Artist - Yorkshire's own Kate Rusby with her talented little band and brass section. She was born in Sheffield so for her a concert here is very much like coming home. With tickets priced at £22.50, there were very few empty seats.

The show had a decidedly Christmassy flavour with Kate having specially resurrected some of the "Sheffield carols" that were stifled by churches in Victorian times for they were thought to be too raucous, lively and insufficiently dull for mid-nineteenth century congregations.. Instead they are now usually only sung in a few pubs to the north and north west of the city - in Dungworth, Grenoside, High Bradfield and the like.

Of all the carols she included in her split two hour long set, only "O Little Town of Bethlehem" retained its traditional tune.

Back in June, Kate married her guitarist, Damien O'Kane from Northern Ireland. They had already produced a little daughter together. She allowed Damien his special time in the spotlight so that he could give us a reworked version of the traditional Irish folk song, "Summer Hill". Damien has a deep, rich way of singing and is so comfortable with his guitar. I would like to have heard more from him but the audience had come to see his wife.

Kate Rusby herself has a lovely, distinctive singing voice. Between the songs, she establishes an intimate self-deprecating rapport with her audience, She smiles a lot and in spite of her years at the forefront of English folk music, she comes across as being someone who still can't believe where she is - on a stage with hundreds of people looking at her.

I would like to say that it was a brilliant concert but to tell you the truth, I came away feeling a little disappointed. The music generally had no "guts". It was all too pretty and in terms of musicianship - far too perfect. There were too many Christmas songs for my liking. I wanted to hear songs that were not simply easy on the ear but songs that would make me laugh, bring tears to my eyes or cause me to consider particular aspects of my own life. I just didn't get that sense of "connection" amid all the niceness and the pleasant banter between the various planned items on the playlist. I'd love to hear her reworking songs by Sandy Denny or Judy Collins.

I suppose it depends on what you want from music. I'm afraid I need a bit more than Kate Rusby provided but for some of you out in Blogland she might be just your cup of Yorkshire tea!
Kate Rusby with her husband, Damien O'Kane


  1. I've never heard of her YP but I quite liked her sound though I couldn't make out many of the words. Is that just me having difficulty with the accent or the quality of the video?

  2. According to Wikipedia, you'll be needing some "digital correcting fluid" ...Sheffield!!¿?

    Kate Anna Rusby (born 4 December 1973 in Barnsley, England[2]), is an English folk singer and songwriter from Penistone, South Yorkshire. Sometimes known as The Barnsley Nightingale,...

  3. HELEN I think it was an amateur recording. If you want better sound, simply research her on YouTube.
    BRIAN,BRIAN,BRIAN...This is what it says on Kate Rusby's Facebook page - "Kate Anna Rusby (born 4 December 1973 in Sheffield, England), is an English folk singer and songwriter from Penistone, South Yorkshire. Sometimes known as The Barnsley Nightingale..." I think the Wikipedia entry has been changed by a Barnsley-biased visitor currently residing in Catalonia with a fiery flamenco dancer called Florence!

  4. Touché ... almost! Didn't realise it was so easy to manipulate someone's Facebook page, but I suppose there are many hackers out there with too much free time on their hands.
    However, you , sorry, the Sheffield-biassed, and -based, hacker, did forget to eliminate the fact that she comes from Penistone which - no doubts here - is in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley. Hands off our lass!

    By the way, Florence ain't no flamenco dancer but she sure does whizz up a mean paella ...

  5. I guess you and Shirley won't be joining Katherine and her mom and I when we go to see Sourdough Slim this weekend.

  6. ah the city Hall
    One of my favourite buildings!!

    I have had many a drunken night in the art deco ballroom!!!

  7. BRIAN... and Florence. I'll be that cool rabbit - Dylan. We can scoff paella till the sun goes down, listening to a CD of that famous Sheffield folk singer - Ms Kate Rusby who professes to be Barnsley just to make those poor sods feel better about themselves.
    JAN Sourdough Slim! Oh wow! We wouldn't miss him for the world. Get the beers in babe! I prefer "Schlitz".
    JOHN GRAY So it was your vomit I had to clean up that night when I worked as a temporary steward down in the ballroom! By the way, you're meant to wear your underpants UNDER your trousers!


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