Kimya Dawson Live In Brighton
An Amercian Folk Hero – Female Family Bonding, Food, Folk and Profanities
Kimya Dawson – American acoustic folk artist visited Brighton for the first time in 8 years. Attractive enough to entice my baby sis down from our native North East for the first time in 4 years, joined by ‘me Mam’. So off we headed for a night of female family bonding, food, folk and profanities.
The last gig I went to with me Mam (aka Hightower…one to be explained another time) was a post-Mercury Queen concert in Newcastle where a little part of me died during a seemingly never-ending Brian May guitar solo. Hightower’s previous top gig experience was 80s Scottish rockers Big Country, from where she triumphantly returned home with singer Stuart Adamson’s face towel – claimed, following a scuffle between Uncle Danny and a fellow punter. Wey aye man!
Kimya Dawson in Brighton Review
First up was Kimya’s best mate Clyde, accompanied by Kimya’s cool as you like 9-year-old daughter Panda dancing backstage. Next up Little Wings; like an adolescent Seasick Steve, who whispered through acoustic folk ditties before finishing with a Prince mini-medley tribute of I Would Die 4U and When Doves Cry. Nice touch.
On came Kimya to a positively distracting backdrop of a mid-80s Prince wearing nothing but a pair of skimpy underpants and a smouldering look. Audience engagement was high from the off with an ‘invitation’ to sit down on the dance floor so everyone could see – muttering approval from the majority culminating in an inadvertent game of musical bumps. An engaging storyteller, with the crowd hanging on her every word as she recounted a tale of a fearsome Brighton seagull stealing her daughter’s doughnut that afternoon. I take it she meant a real bird and not a hungry crunching tackle from legendary midfielder Jimmy Case. That would be wrong.
On with some sea shanties to suit the coastal venue, ‘a yo ho ho and a de de de’. Rousing, foot stamping stuff, followed by a cute track that the then 3-year-old Panda wrote about animal best friends (with a little help from Billy Bragg). Cracking stories of crazy friends, teenage angst and pink speedo-togged horses called Billy-O before a touching-but-not-gushy tribute to Prince, topped off with a folk falsetto and a point to the man himself’s on screen man bits.
Kimya spoke of a childhood holiday where the essential viewing was an intriguing fusion of Annie and Prince’s Purple Rain. This culminated in her mate’s declaration of ‘when I grow up I want to be Miss Hannigan’ – no such folly for Kimya, however, who decided there and then that her adult life would consist of ‘writing dirty f**king songs’. Strong-minded and duly delivered.
We could have heard a pin drop in the crowd for most of the evening; such a welcome change to many recent gigs where annoying punters have chatted throughout the entire act. No such disrespect for this truly captivating performer, with the unavoidable exception of a fainter and another, struck down with an attack of sitting down-induced cramp.
Many of the tracks felt tailored to the like-minded followers with Complicated/Same Shit making light of drinking kombucha and eating tempeh (very Brighton), through to everyday battles of anxiety and ‘trying to find the sweet spot between wound up and unravelled’. Aren’t we all?
A stirring rendition of ‘At the Seams’ with its heartbreaking chorus ‘arms up, don’t shoot, I can’t breathe’ – in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on the disturbingly regular injustices of black communities at the hands of the American police forces – left us with angry lumps in our throats. A haunting melody and messages that will stay with me.
Final track Loose Lips and a poignant change of lyrics to ‘f**k Trump and f**k this war’ replacing the original ‘Bush’ to cheers from the seated love-in before a final nod to Prince left Kimya emotional, her voice breaking as she left the stage.
Welcome back to Brighton Kimya Dawson – we hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did. Please come back soon…I’ll bring me, Mam, too.
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