Kill It Kid
@ Fibbers, York
The last time I saw Kill It Kid was at Stereo in York, the backroom to a pub that is as unwelcoming as it is tiny. The turnout for the band was rather sparse, but I commended them for giving the performance their full effort and not letting the handful of people in the audience get them down.
This time round, in the new Fibbers, it became clear that York isn’t the band’s largest fanbase. Playing to a crowd of around 75, the recently-trimmed quartet from Bath mixed new and old tracks with the same enormous enthusiasm.
The audience, mostly over the age of 40, politely spaced themselves out across the room, with a small crowd of the supporting bands’ members and entourage setting up camp to the left of the stage: as I wandered around, it was easy to get from the bar at the back of the room to the front of the stage without upsetting anybody.
The three opening songs were all from the band’s forthcoming second album, and proved that they have no intention of deviating from the musical formula that made their debut so successful and unique. There’s more emphasis on Stephanie Ward’s vocals in these songs, perhaps showing a deliberate move to share vocal duties more evenly.
Having warmed the audience, Kill It Kid moved into established territory, first with “Send Me An Angel Down”, then a barnstorming rendition of “Dirty Water” that – despite the complexity of the layers in the studio recording – was astonishingly true to the original.
There were mentions of Woody Guthrie and allusions to Dylan as the band talked around their new tracks which, despite maintaining the pop sound, shows them starting the route of ‘finding their meaning’ in their sophomore album. Particularly worth a mention was new single “Pray On Me”, which was both powerful and harmonious and was met with one of the biggest round of applause of the night.
In terms of performance, the band are impressively tight, especially given their youth, with the breaks and harmonies always being spot-on. There’s evidence that they’re challenging themselves with this new output; my wife even spotted some tricky 5/4 timing in the bridge of one new track.
The only dampener for the whole show was out of the band’s hands as, yet again, the Fibbers-provided sound technician got the levels wrong, meaning for chunks of songs we were missing vocals or keyboards. Nevertheless, the band coped with it well and little of the show was lost.
It’s a real shame – and quite a surprise – that Kill It Kid haven’t got a stronger following in York. Their live show is energetic and intricate, with hooks and choruses that, in better situations, would have the audience joining in and singing along. Having got to know the debut album when I reviewed it in 2009, I was impressed by how closely the live versions resembled their recorded equivalents, and in particular marvelled at Chris Turpin’s gravelly, soulful vocals.
If you get the chance, I strongly recommend seeing Kill It Kid live. They’re energetic and engaging and will always give the dhow their all. And the music’s pretty good too!