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- Dry Bar, Manchester »
- Rose Kemp »
The Dry Bar is comfortably full tonight, and even the intrusive odour of the toilets does little to dampen the crowd’s expectation of an artist whose debut single, ‘Violence’ (on the respected One Little Indian label), is receiving great reviews.
This track is, along with the mesmerising vocal-looped a cappella gem ‘Little Flower’, a highlight of the set. While the studio version of ‘Violence’ provides the perfect vehicle for Rose Kemp to display the full spectrum of her impressive vocal dexterity, it also alludes to her underlying experimental rock tendencies, and it is the latter that is pushed to the fore here tonight.
Taking to the stage, Rose cuts a rather unassuming figure, yet she nevertheless rips loose with a backing band that’s akin to a pit bull terrier straining at the leash. This shouldn’t come as a real surprise: one member of her band is part of Bristol’s incredibly heavy sludge-rock outfit Geisha. Rose herself appears to be in no mood to keep the beast at bay, and the crashing guitars and pummelling drum work propel the night along like a juggernaut. Indeed, the final track is suffixed by a splurge of feedback residue that simply gushes forth from the speakers.
Whether the crowd was expecting such an aural tempest tonight is another matter, and I suspect this might present a potential problem for Rose: although the band format does help to fill out her sound, it is somewhat of a double-edged sword in that it also on occasions distracts attention from, or even drowns out completely, what is no doubt Rose’s primary asset - her voice. There are enough moments tonight to suggest that Rose clearly has a great future, but this straddling of folk songstress and rock goddess personas might be unsustainable in the long run. She may, at some point, have to decide what musical skin she feels most comfortable in.
Photograph by Chris Lucas