Kate Rusby – Live from Leeds (Pure Records PRDVD 15, 2004)
If you haven’t been lucky enough to see Kate Rusby in concert, this DVD will give you some insight into what you have missed. Her CDs are wonderful in themselves but seeing a live gig brings a further dimension to the songs and the singer’s character.
She delivers many favorites from her career so far in the company of her band
which includes John McCusker, Ian Carr and others who have appeared on her albums. So, among the gems are traditional tunes like ‘Sir Eglamore’ and ‘The White Cockade’, along with the Rusby adaptation, ‘Fairest Of All Yarrow’, one of her finest re-shapings of the traditional ballad. And to show her development as a songwriter there are pieces such as ‘Underneath The Stars’ and ‘Who Will Sing Me Lullabies’.
Although she doesn’t often cover contemporary songwriters’ work, her version of Richard Thompson’s ‘Withered And Died’ has never sounded better. It is richly melodic and haunting, utterly comfortless too, as you’d expect from Thompson.
As a performer she has grown in confidence over the last 11 years and has a knack of creating an empathy with her audience through her chat, anecdotes about the rovenance of the material and her personal warmth. Occasionally, she over indulges her need to explain what a song is about but on this set she has managed to rein that in. It’s ok Kate, we’ll be able to follow the words.
Apart from the gig there are some interesting extras, like an interview with Andy Kershaw, a longtime promoter of the Rusby cause. There is also a short acoustic set with songs like ‘The Jolly Ploughboys’ and ‘The Wild Goose’, her version of the old sea shanty. The video diary contains snippets of what goes on behind the scenes, on tour and in rehearsal, including a session in the bar where Laura Cantrell adds some harmonies. All of which is a bonus after the live performance.
It all adds up to a very pleasurable couple of hours with one of England’s finest voices and interpreters of traditional song.