David Kitt at Borderline, London, 18th April 2018

The last time I saw David Kitt in London was at The Scala in King’s Cross almost 12 years ago. Back then, he was just done with his 20s and his backing band was made up of Richie Egan, Mattie Bolger (Jape, The Redneck Manifesto) and a cherub-faced young drummer by the name of Ross Turner (I Am The Cosmos, Ships). Tonight’s an altogether different proposition, gone are the lads and with them his 30s. An older, more confident Kitt is in self-deprecating form and the crowd are with him tonight in Soho’s slightly smaller but no-less-enthused Borderline venue  

As the Soho sun set, park dwellers start to assemble for tonight’s support act Lindsay Munroe, who comes armed with just her electric guitar and a sincere Cat Power like vocal. Kittser, flanked by violinist and partner Margie Lewis, takes to the stage shortly after to huge applause, and greets us with a familiar Dublin “How are yiz doin?”, before rhetorically adding “Hopefully yiz aren’t ALL Irish?

He needn’t have worried.

Kicking off with There Will Always Be This Love, a heart-breaker of a new song, in which both Margie’s vocals and violin share centre stage with Kitt, it sets the tone for much of the night’s set. The violin is a fantastic addition, crazed at times, but always tasteful.

Taste of Without is next and we are only in to the third song when Kitt introduces long-time friend and collaborator Michele Stodart, from The Magic Numbers, to the stage. While her deep groove basslines are crying out for a drummer, Kitt does his best to assist with a full desk of different drum machines and samplers. A lesser bass player might still have struggled but Stodart was a fan before she ever met Kitt, and you can tell as much in her enthusiastic singing along,and impassioned playing, even when she’s not on mic.

Kitt was always unfairly piled in with the singer-songwriter crowd of his youth but, tonight, on top of the weaving violin and dazzling bass grooves of Lewis and Stodart, he spends his time looping guitars, firing off the aforementioned drum samples and noises while bolstering old hits, with his two female cohorts beautifully harmonising his dulcet tones.

The set largely borrows from his latest release ‘Yous’, originally released in January of 2017 but beautifully repackaged for vinyl/CD by All City Records and re-released last month. We do get some refreshed versions of old favourites, You Know What I Wanna Know, Strange Light In The Evening and a stomping, almost techno version of  Into The Breeze, complete with crowd sing-along as they first exit the stage. He returns for several solo efforts before welcoming back his smiling band to finish with the firm fan-favourite Headphones from his very first release ‘Small Moments’.

There may only have been two new David Kitt albums in over a decade since that Scala show but the other projects he has been busying himself with – from New Jackson, to his time as a touring member of Tindersticks, David Gray, Jape, Somadrone and many more – have all informed both his work and his stage presence. He is able to  look back and laugh at his “ill-conceived” 2004 topless album cover for ‘Square 1’ while playing a somewhat cobbled together version of  Dance With You for a fan.

Yet, while he is still well up for a laugh, Kitt also gets visibly frustrated when sound levels aren’t to his satisfaction on-stage (though the crowd had no such complaints). He understands people have come out to catch as many songs as possible while we have him here and, as a result, the set runs to about 90 minutes. They are mostly songs concerning love, and tonight Kitt most certainly brought the love.

In association with The Irish Jam

Feature photo by Owen Humphreys