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Birmingham born Katherine Priddy’s lyrical acoustic guitar and ethereal dream-weaving Celtic romanticism quite caught the small room Hare punters off-guard and, by the close of her short set, had them blinking her faerie-dust enchantment from their eyes. She wears her influences proudly on her sleeve with covers of John Martin’s ‘Sandy Grey’ and Iron & Wine’s ‘Naked As We Came’. And, with a deftly swift re-tuning that caused the seasoned musos in the room to gawp at her nimble dexterity, launched in to a filigree trilling Richard Thompson ‘Beeswing’. She’s a voice that shimmers like frost-brittle spiders’ webs resonating to a ghost-moth’s wing beat. Her self-penned songs are astutely crafted, modest but deftly self-assured. Closing number, ‘Fragile’ chimed with deliciously tinkled guitar flourishes (apart from the fire-alarm, that is). At still only seventeen, Ms Priddy’s moon-bathing mysticism is a flowering gift plucked from Donovan’s magic garden. ‘The door’s always open/there’s a light on the stairs.’ The invitation is there, rsvp.

Katherine Priddy

Katherine Priddy

The dilemma is: does one stay to bask in the Icelandic cold-comfort balm of Cheek Mountain Thief’s folksy icicle works, whose muse seems to embrace Prefab Sprout lounge Jazz and a Dexies’ pissed snowman gypsy-polka or, go next door for Cate Le Bon? Tough call – even though some blogs suggested her set would be a eulogy to her deceased cats and dogs. Ever willing to embrace counter-orthodoxies – asking the Hare audience if they’re up for a dead-pet seminary might be pushing it a bit!

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Essentially you have to think Fairport Convention meets The Cowboy Junkies and Jefferson Airplane with Blue Cheer providing the chemical hospitality. Call it retro existential cosmetic angst if you will. Cate Le Bon, on electric guitar/vocals, sports a Mary Quant iconic 60s black hair bob and swirly black cloak. The discordant, jangling, vibrato keyboards evoking Country Joe & The Fish circa 1970. Her dreamy beat-pop and precise vocal articulation was a canny, decoy ruse of Welsh wizardry because suddenly the band unleashed a chaotic, septic wasps’ nest of psychedelic guitar riff mayhem. Wonderful.

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Think Ray Manzarek on stylophone doing a duet with The Velvet Underground and Blue Peter dog, Shep, on hurdy-gurdy. And, it just kept on getting better. Keyboard drone armies battled with a squeal-free recorder (yes, ‘that’ recorder you used to loath playing at school because it tasted of the last player’s gob and Dettol). You could easily get hooked on Ms. Le Bon’s elixir of dandelion & burdock seasoned witchery.

Gig review by John Kennedy
Gig photos by Ian Dunn

*(Katherine Priddy supports Michael Chapman at The Hare, October 13th).

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