Review | Madam



This is the Kit + Madam @ Union Chapel
24 July 2011


It’s summer in London and so the girls are rock up to the gorgeous Union Chapel, for the latest in their regular Daylight Music gigs, in skirts and tee-shirts. Summertime optimism is misplaced however as we step into the venue and remember that, heck, churches are cold. Luckily This is the Kit’s heartwarmingly adorable folk-pop tunes keep the worst of the unseasonable chill from us.

The five adults and two children who form today’s line up of This is the Kit make for a delightful and unpredictable performance. Kate Stable’s soft-as-folk voice, together with her banjo, forms a piercing counterpoint to the harder sound of her band. The relatively rowdy ‘Earthquake’, is the current single, setting out a positively jaunty mood for the crowd trembling among the cold church pews.

So thoroughly are the girls are’s hearts all expandy with the loveliness of This is the Kit, and won over by Wilderthorn’s spiritual yowlings that the darkness that ascends the stage for Madam is alarming. They prepare the audience with a doomy soundscape before they come on, all dressed in black. Sukie Smith, Madam’s matriarch, shows there’s no room for whimsy in her band as she sets out to do battle with the daylight falling through the stained glass windows. Smith’s voice is the centre of Madam’s sound, and it’s unforgiving, making you think of 3am and you’re still awake and facing down the dark things that haunt you at night.

The set is in turns deliciously defiant and launguidly dreamy. Madam’s velvety cover of Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’ is met with the biggest applause from the crowd. A powerful and cathartic showdown features cellist Sarah Gill playing a saw, ladies and gentlemen, a saw, and leaves us reeling as in a storm at sea. But when the girls are step out of the church it’s sunny, and there are no clouds. Whichever strange landscape Madam had transported us to, we’re back on dry land now.




Arike Oke
Photographed by Rebecca Rapkins for the girls are.


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