Friday 31 July 2015

The art of listening

I rarely go out in the evenings, but when I saw that Kate Rusby was coming to Sidmouth Folk Festival I could not resist the temptation.  Expensive, but as S had given me £50 for my birthday I thought, "Yeah, go for it!"  

Kate sang a number of songs from her excellent new album to a full house and several of my all-time favourites from her considerable catalogue.

This one gets me every time.

Unfortunately, I was ever so slightly disappointed.  I had expected to enjoy a live performance a lot more than listening to her studio recordings, but - dare I say it - I think she sounds better on CD.

In fact I came home wondering what had gone wrong – I know it was a cold night and she may have been feeling a little under par.  However, when I listened again, this morning, nothing was so very different. A lot of the perceived 'faults' I found in last night's performance can be heard in the recordings (if you listen out for them).  I’d just not heard her properly: her timbre really is that husky, and she does take audible intakes of breath.  Last night I was fondly imagining that she was too close to the microphone (!)  

Don’t get me wrong: I love my recordings of her - they still move me - and I am glad I saw her, particularly as T said of her band, "They weren't just playing; they were performing."  Trust a musician to say that.  

Hmmmmm, I can now hear what he means when he says the arrangements on her CDs aren’t that interesting.  (He'd never heard of Kate Rusby before last night).  But what do I care?  She sings like a nightingale.

Ooooh, the irony: T, who went with me, to keep me company, got more out the evening than I did.  Come the end he gave the band a standing ovation!


  1. I love the haunting voice of Kate Rusby (better alone, I find, the male voice distracted me).
    The trouble is with expectations, they can lead us to slight disappointments!
    I think that there are a lot of 'arrangements' and repeats of certain parts, done in CD recordings, that's why singers often sound better than when we listen to them live.
    Anyway, as one who doesn't know, I enjoyed your two youtube songs here!
    Have a great weekend!

    1. This is the first time I've been disappointed like this - at a concert. But, yes, expectations should be treated with caution!

  2. Oh, the Blooming Heather! - as a Scot, I grew up with this song and love it (although I know it better as The Wild Mountain Thyme). I've known of Kate Rusby for a while but had never really heard anything from her, so thank you for the introduction - lovely voice.

    PS: yay! - I can leave comments now. Thanks so much for changing the settings.

    1. But thank YOU so much for alerting me that I needed to adjust my settings! So glad you've discovered Kate Rusby; I listen to listen to her endlessly.