Gig review: This is the Kit at the Wedgewood Rooms

This is the Kit's Kate Stables

Gig review: This is the Kit at the Wedgewood Rooms

The quirky, warm and soothing musical stylings of This is the Kit are like a balm to the soul. So, I jumped at the chance to see TITK perform at Southsea’s Wedgewood Rooms on a balmy June evening last week – just the antidote to football fever and pre-election craziness. At a This is the Kit gig, everything is right with the world.

This is the Kit are an indie folk collective fronted by vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Kate Stables. Having been around since the early 2000s, TITK have amassed both fans and critical acclaim aplenty. They’re firm favourites with 6 Music DJs across the board and in 2018, their album Moonshine Freeze was nominated for an Ivor Novello award. Originally from just up the road in Winchester, Kate now lives in Paris, which only adds to how unassumingly cool she is. This is the Kit’s latest release is a live album recorded at Cornwall’s open air Minack Theatre (a jaw-dropping venue if you ever get the chance to go), and you can hear how extraordinary a gig it must have been.

Although we didn’t have a view of the sea at the Wedge, our evening with TITK was pretty special too. We arrived in time to see support from local vocal trio Polly Gone Wrong and were so glad we did – their harmonies, beatboxing and use of props (including fairy lights, books and ripping paper) had us absolutely enraptured. Their cover of Alt-J’s Interlude 1 (The Ripe & Ruin) was complete goosebumps.

TITK then began their set with Kate in her socks, which summed up exactly the informal, homely vibe we were in for. They started off with the title track of their latest studio album, Careful of your Keepers, which had a gorgeously full sound with the whole band on stage. It’s a slow and dreamy song, and makes me want to laze in a hammock while the horizon wobbles in the distance.

Next up was the funky, lighthearted Coming to Get You Nowhere, before pacy recent single Inside Outside, both of which gave all the members of the band chances to shine. After a quick check on the England-Slovenia Euro’s score with the crowd (nil-nil), Kate switched to her banjo and gave us This is What You Did, with its insistent drumline and chant-like chorus. TITK perform with a collaborative ease that’s just lovely to watch, somehow super relaxed and beautifully-polished at the same time.

Sticking with the up-tempo tracks from the album Off Off On, next was No Such Thing and then a slower swerve into one of my more recent favourites, More Change. So many of TITK’s songs evoke warmth and sunshine, and this is no exception with its samba style and Kate’s sweetly lilting vocal.

They followed this up with Dibs, another slower song, but not before Kate had us practise our audience participation line that would kick in near the end.

Leaving the stage and stepping up onto the front row barrier, Kate and her guitar guided us through the sing-along with ease, and being part of a venue full of people singing ‘be okay’ over and over was surprisingly cathartic.

Back to the banjo briefly and it was time for Take You to Sleep, before Earthquake, an old favourite met with whoops of happy recognition from the audience. This sultry number has one of the best ‘woooooo’ bridges to sing along to that I can think of, and we all took full advantage. Guitarist Neil Smith also gave us an awesome reverb-laden solo.

Kate then told us the next song was for the Wedgewood Rooms as it has the word ‘wedge’ in the first line, not (thankfully) because it’s called Scabby Head and Legs. As their first stop at Wedge for a long time, TITK seemed truly stoked to be there – Kate said several times how grateful she was and was genuinely touched at the adoration of the crowd. They brought the set to a close with another old favourite, the brilliant Moonshine Freeze and the gentle and tender ode to perseverance, Keep Going. Asking the crowd for their suggestions for the final song, Kate settled on Silver John after we collectively called out most of the TITK back catalogue, much to her delight.

This is the Kit performing at Wedgewood Rooms
This is the Kit on stage at the Wedgewood Rooms

For their encore, a solo Kate gave us a beautifully stripped-back version of Bullet Proof on the banjo, before the band re-joined her to perform Found Out, finishing with a high energy flourish.

Beaming widely, Kate and the band then took their bows to wall-to-wall applause before heading backstage, Kate’s boots still sat comfortably in front of the drumkit. Although it was the first time I’ve seen them, spending time with This is the Kit really feels like spending time with old friends.

Main image by Cedric Oberlin


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