Tempest has released two albums of music to date (as well as a novel, numerous collections of poetry and much more) and has received widespread critical acclaim for both, including a Mercury Award-nomination for each record.
Both albums are narrative-driven explorations of modern day society. They tell a story from start to finish, and make comment about the modern-day state of the world while they’re at it.
What this does mean is that when you see Kate Tempest live it’s unlikely you’ll be treated to a ‘Greatest Hits’ style performance; even at a music festival, where most bands tend to roll out a setlist made from their biggest hits and crowd pleasers.
Tempest closed the ‘Tenement TV’ stage on Friday night by playing her latest record, the 13-track Let Them Eat Chaos in its entirety. You don’t have to previously be familiar with her work to enjoy it, though. Just turn up, watch and listen, and you will be blown away by the performance. The audience is hanging on every word that comes out of the Londoner’s mouth.
Let Them Eat Chaos looks at day-to-day life in modern society, and the bigger picture of it all, from the perspective of numerous different characters, all of whom live in the same apartment block and going about their regular routine at 4.18am.
Lines like single release ‘Europe is Lost’ take aim at the government: “Caught sniffing lines off a prostitute’s prosthetic tits / Now it's back to the house of lords with slapped wrists / They abduct kids and fuck the heads of dead pigs / But him in a hoodie with a couple of spliffs? / Jail him, he’s the criminal."
All of this comes set to a mesmerising, endlessly original live electronic soundtrack. The words are gripping, bold, more engaging and thought-provoking than anything else you’re likely to hear on mainstream radio, and the electronic soundtrack makes it something that’s hard to stand still to as well.
Tempest smashes through song after song, character after character without so much of as a moment’s break between songs. Individual tracks start slow, with spoken word stanzas rising into quicker rhythmic verses as the beat comes in.
There can surely be no doubt that Tempest is one of the best writers in the industry right now, and one of the most hypnotic performers in the world. Your jaw will drop early, and it’ll stay dropped throughout.