Kathryn Williams - Manchester Academy 3 - 18.07.04

What a lovely way to spend a warm summers evening, in the company of Kathryn Williams. The young, raven haired singer songwriter is still refreshingly down to earth. In her friendly way Kathryn tells us that an over zealous member of security wouldn't let her into her own gig at first and half way through her set she admits to having stage fright, but she needn't worry. In this intimate venue she's amongst friends.

Her latest release "Relations" is a covers album of some well known and less familiar songs and if you haven't already bought it then I suggest you do as its a veritable treasure trove of musical excellence. Kathryn's voice is crystal clear, so soft and warm, naturally making the most of her range. "I Started A Joke" from her new album is a fine rendition, well played from all concerned on stage. A couple of my favourites from her last album are well received, "Little Black Numbers" and the haunting yet melodic "Mirrorball". Only Kathryn would tell her audience what her favourite and least favourite motorways are. It's these quirky and delightful moments which make Williams such a winning personality, the Victoria Wood of folk if you like.

During her performance of "A Guy Who Takes His Time" she informs us that the sexy movie star Mae West sang it in the 1930s, so keep that in mind when I sing it. A few fans laugh out loud, perhaps too much as Miss Williams mockingly protests "it wasn't that funny". A brand new song "Sustain Pedal" is heard for the first time, a slow hypnotic track which is most impressive. "Hallelujah" which was written by Leonard Cohen has been covered countless times before but as Kath reminds us "we're not competing, we're feeling the song which is what music is all about" and boy what a song. Of all her music played tonight this one had the tear in the eye moment. It's impossibly, not to be moved from so much emotion. Kath adds "I'd like to shag him, but his heart might give out". Perhaps too much information there, but we appreciate your honesty.

For the encore Kathryn plays "Fade" off her debut album and she spots me scribbling down notes and enquires what i'm doing. When I meekly explain i'm making notes for a review she becomes distracted. I assure her it'll be a good one as Kathryn and her musicians have played superbly throughout their ninety minute set. The last word had to be from Kathryn Williams who dedicates her last song to me. She looks directly and me and say "no offence its called 'Spit On A Stranger' (a cover of a Pavement song). Like I said - the Victoria Wood of folk music. Pure class, northern wit and above all terrific music. Kathryn Williams we salute you!!!

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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