Katherine Priddy – Trowbridge Town Hall – 11th December 2021
When an album such as 2021’s The Eternal Rocks Beneath has impressed as much as it did with this listener, waiting to hear the artist live for the first time can bring plenty of anticipation, as well as some trepidation. Waiting for the show to arrive for almost five months and not knowing whether COVID would kick the tour into the long grass only served to ramp up the impatience for live music and the sincere hope that the Katherine Priddy live experience would live up to expectations.
In the end, we got far more than we could have hoped for, not only from the headline act, but from Northallerton’s George Boomsma in support, plus the joy of discovering Trowbridge Town Hall as a new venue. The setting of the old courtroom worked well, with naturally raised areas via the judge’s platform and the public gallery looking down at the low-rise stage against one side wall.
Supporting the support is always laudable gig-goer behaviour. It’s something you can never guarantee from an audience, though. George Boomsma grabbed our attention swiftly and held it for the duration of his set. It genuinely felt more like we were treated to a double bill at times, as George had plenty of headliner quality himself. For a man whose surname begins with ‘Boom’ the principal draw was his endearing, personable humility, and the quiet strength and clarity of his voice. The title track from his Chinatown EP and the tale of his 60s Weekend (that’s 1960s, not gatecrashing a SAGA mini-break) were just two of the treat-filled windows this evening’s musical advent calendar.
Katherine Priddy also had a song about a wild weekend, hers occurring on the Isle of Eigg. After this and Mr Boomsma’s anecdotal track, we could have been left wondering whether our couple of hours in Trowbridge on a Saturday night quite measured up. Evidence that adventures preceded this pandemic malarkey felt like a decent reminder that they await us again once it has all finally cleared off. Another similarity with her tour mate was the incredible and unforced fortitude of Priddy’s voice. That level of precision and control takes significant training and practice to achieve, but it strikes the ear as beautifully effortless.
There were so many songs that could warrant a mention, but what brought songs like Icarus, Eurydice and Wolf together was not just the magic of myth and literature, but a real emotional acuity that undoubtedly touched a nerve and stimulated the odd tear duct in the room. There’s always something in a Katherine Priddy song with which you can quickly and emotively associate: loving someone intensively that just isn’t good for you (Wolf), or seeing someone self-destruct and knowing you can do nothing to stop them (Icarus).
Songs that were neither on her debut EP nor her debut album gave us additional pleasures. Still Winter, Still Waiting was a Bandcamp release from December 2020 and a new one to many. Father Of Two was a beautiful birthday present composition for her father during lockdown, turned into a wider gift for all now. Northern Sunrise and the first co-written track between the evenings two players, Ready To Go were genuine appetisers towards forthcoming releases.
Good music can make you forget your troubles. It can also make you remember your troubles, but in a way that reminds you that you outlived those troubles and that you’re standing tall. This was an evening full, from start to finish, of those diverse joys.