Words

Kate Tempest

A way with words

Attend

What: Kate Tempest

When: 7 pm Sat., Sep. 28

Where: Wild Buffalo, 208 W. Holly St.

Cost: $20-$25

Info: http://www.wildbuffalo.net

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Warning: If you’re on a tight schedule, don’t search for Kate Tempest on Youtube. If you don’t heed this admonition, there’s a very good chance you’ll spend the next hour—or however long the clip is—watching the mesmerizing performer bringing her fascinating stories to life with a combination of spoken word and music.

Even is she’s telling these tales with her eyes closed, Tempest is a sorcerer who makes it difficult to look away from what she’s bringing to the stage. She’s gritty and real, sweaty and swooning.

The London-born performer is only 33 years old, but she appears to have lived a lifetime in those years. She an English lit grad who toured internationally with her alternative hip-hop band Sound of Rum until 2012, but is also a sought-after wordsmith who was commissioned to write her first play, Wasted, that same year.

She must’ve had a lot more to say, because in 2013 she published her first book of poetry, Everything Speaks in It Own Way, on her own imprint, Zingaro. She also launched a theatrical spoken-word piece, Brand New Ancients, wrote another play that premiered at Birmingham Rep Theatre, and released Everybody Down.

The subject matter of that debut album centered around two characters, Becky and Harry. Becky’s a dancer who also works as a waitress and an erotic masseuse, and Harry’s a cocaine dealer who longs to quit the business and open up a community space.

When Tempest’s debut novel, The Bricks That Built Houses, came out in 2016, those characters came back to life—except in the album Harry was portrayed as man, and in the book he’s a she.

“Within the context of the novel, I go further and I explain—as in me, the writer—I explain at greater length and in greater detail about Becky and her life and her work,” Tempest told NPR that year. “Whereas with a four- or five-minute track, there’s an ambiguity to a lot of stuff because actually that’s what you need in that moment. You don’t want to be kind of beaten over the head with the minute details of everything; it needs to work as a song.”

So is she a writer or a musician first? When she comes to Bellingham for a Sat., Sept. 28 gig at the Wild Buffalo, you’ll get a chance to find out for yourself that she simply has a way with words, and it isn’t worth the time to check off her formidable talents in any sort of box.

Last year, Tempest was nominated for Best British Female Solo Performer at the Brit Awards, and it stands to reason that someone who’s been called one of the most respected writers and performers in her own county—and sells out shows around the world—is worth giving up your Saturday night for. I promise, it’ll be worth your time.

If you don’t believe me, make your way to Youtube’s search engine, and plug in Kate Tempest’s name. Don’t blame me if doing so makes you late for an important meeting. I warned you, after all.

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