“More empathy, less greed. More empathy, less greed. More empathy, less greed.” A beautiful sentiment but you would be forgiven for rolling your eyes. However, Kate Tempest’s sincere words were rather more compelling than pretentious. A set intermittent with such emotive monologues enthralled Kate’s Nottingham faithful.

Tempest’s political and social angst didn’t sidetrack from the quality of her performance. Catching herself lost in obvious frustrations with society, Kate would halt the dark subjects she often delved into with a quick witted comment, and then her carefully constructed lyrical recipes would begin. This process repeated itself throughout the show: frustrated rant, light hearted comment, breathtaking song. Kate’s spoken word flitted from universal matters delivered with clear hate and dissatisfaction in her voice, to personal stories expressed very genuinely. ‘War Music’ was a beautiful example of Kate’s abilities to marry these two concepts together in one song. Telling the true story of a soldier she knew, and also keeping the poignant message about the horror of war clear throughout, a storytelling method that left the entirety of the audience hanging on her ever line.

This process repeated itself throughout the show: frustrated rant, light hearted comment, breathtaking song.

Most of Tempest’s poems were accompanied by her band, made up of sample pads, a synth, drums and an energetic backing singer. The screeching and banging noises echoing from the sample pads added a jarring element to the more serious performances, and the synth’s bouncing arcade noises made an unfitting dissonance with Tempest’s loaded, discontented lyrics. ‘Stink’, taken from her 2014 album Everybody Down displayed this odd mixture of upbeat sample sounds paired with explosive lyrics. Surprisingly, this combination works. It makes you feel something – a tall task given the amount of music we passively hear on any given day.

It makes you feel something – a tall task given the amount of music we passively hear on any given day.

Tempest’s backing singer tuned in on more upbeat tracks such as ‘Circles’ where the poet commanded the crowd to dance, “because that’s why you’re all here for, right?” Brilliant though Tempest’s moving monologues were, the livelier tracks were warmly welcomed as a break from the intense atmosphere swelling throughout Rescue Rooms. Although subjects such as the rise of racist political parties, the crumbling of the NHS, and the sadistic nature of war were addressed, there was never a feeling of hopelessness. In fact, the contrary was the case, with Kate filling her fans with a feeling of hope. She distilled inspiration into the room, urging people not to feel apathetic. Her suggestion to make a difference to the society she slammed through spoken poetry? “More empathy, less greed”. 

Daisy Foster

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