Kate Rusby At Christmas – The Lowry, Salford Quays
Date: 1st December 2019
Wit woo – what better way to start your Christmas countdown than with an evening of Yorkshire seasonal pub carols and songs guided by Kate Rusby.
Cleverly dodging the hoards sweeping from Old Trafford after a disappointing 2-2 with the Villa and quietly chuckling at the length of the queue to pay for the car park, we ventured from the outlet mall to the Lowry Theatre for the opening night od Kate Rusby’s 2019 Christmas tour. Yippee!
All this while pondering the question of whether it’s best to see the tour straight away and get into the Christmas spirit or see the show as close to the 25th as possible so you’re right in the full flow of excitement for ‘his’ visit.
Admittedly, it felt like opening the first door of your advent calendar and getting the ultimate bonus. Passing by the Christmas market outside the Lowry, deserted by showtime, but apparently there had been some nice Thai dumplings on sale earlier, the weather outside wasn’t frightful, but inside it was delightful. It’s been a while since her audience has had the luxury of the plush lilac seats in the Quays Theatre and with the selection of handicrafts on sale at the merch desk, including your own Kate Rusby Xmas stocking, most seemed in pretty high spirits.
Talking of signs, there was even a new(ish) born baby – congratulations Nick Cooke – plus Stevie Byrnes on reindeer patrol looking after Ruby the (stuffed, although she moved!) reindeer mark 2, leaving percussion duties to Josh Clark and his impressive (some might say Santa-ish) beard. Just two of a band marshalled by Damien O’Kane whose precision is as sharp as a pin.
Oh yes, it was a night full of glee with a first half that was as good as any in the decade or so that’s she’s been doing Christmas shows. Packed with hark harking, flock watching shepherds, decking the halls and walking in Winter wonderlands. A chance to catch up with the Rusby household, children and pets and let ‘the boys’ loose on a set of tunes with a few carefully planned Christmassy improvisations.
The links with Cornwall who share the similar tradition of pub carols showed some nice cross-cultural singing 😉 with the lovey Sunny Bank perhaps the pick as it worked around the Three Ships melody. It’s perhaps the highlight of The Frost Is All Over from 2015.
And perhaps for the first time, we had a Winter tour gig where Kate wasn’t progressing through the gig with the need to don cardi, coat, scarf and gloves – all due to the presence of an onstage heater, perhaps now an essential part of the tour rider.
On the way out, feeling warmed and injected with a festive conviviality, the thought occurs that should anyone ever want to rewrite Dickens and take A Christmas Carol into the new millennium, there would be no better way than to have a Kate Rusby Christmas as the wake-up call for Scrooge.
Photography by Mike Ainscoe – Kate at Christmas 2016/7. You can find more of Mike’s work on the At The Barrier Facebook page.