Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

The walls of Lancaster Library are emblazoned with silhouettes of children wandering through words.

A speech bubble from one figure says: “I wish she was real”.

And it was with some disbelief to walk into a temple of tomes to find tea, cake and one of Britain’s most fabulous folk stars.

This Is The Kit  really are on stage in-between the travel and history sections. And 250 of us are treated to a unique matinee performance in this warm and wise environment.

All made possible due to the sensational Loud in Libraries initiative which gives people who love music “a damn good time in a library”.

No age restrictions, no bar, no rip-off ticket prices - just wonderful music in wonderful surroundings.

The ultra-family-friendly environment leads to several babes in arms appearing for support act Emma Gatrill.

The Brighton-based harpist sets a lovely tone to proceedings. She’s two parts Bjork and three parts Kate Bush.

To my shock and awe, I've reached the grand old age of 44 and this is the first time I've seen and heard someone play a harp. And I've been to Dublin. Twice.

My head’s full of questions as Gatrill plucks away.

How can acoustics in libraries be so outstanding? Why should gigs predominantly be evening affairs? 

Sunday afternoon concerts are ideal for kids and the forty-somethings keen to rock-it-out and still make it home for Call The Midwife.

Kate Stables of This is The Kit sweeps onto stage with an outstanding set of musicians including Rozi Plain and Emma Gatrill who reappears in the brass section.

In folk terms this is something of a supergroup. Think Electronic but a bit less dance.

And yes, another first. Until today I don’t think I've seen anyone play a banjo.

My dad bought one to pass the time. And no-one’s seen it since it first appeared five years ago.

Given the job Stables has tuning the instrument I can see why dad gave up.

But once the opening notes are played and Stables starts to sing, this afternoon oasis borders on paradise.

The set largely consists of songs from the beautiful Moonshine Freeze album.

A record which gets more majestic with each play.

The album opener - the dreamy, delicate Bulletproof - floats, swirls and lands somewhere north of Windermere: “Can you prove to me that you can feel anything?”

Stables switches between banjo and the greatest looking guitar I’ve ever seen.

It’s all 50s dark green sheen. And it sounds splendid for the folk rock Hotter Colder which even sees those babes in arms tapping their feet.

If you could have expected amazing songs today I wasn’t expecting such fab humour for Stables:

“Wherever I go I like to find public amenities, swimming pools and now the library…”

Her hilarious patter about everything from cold concert venues to querying the Lancaster coat of arms, is a joyful addition to the music.

And there is politics from Stables who speaks of public services under attack: “Libraries should be protected. If anyone tries to shut them, Just Stop Them”.

The album title track Moonshine Freeze is terrific and I want its three minute duration to last three hours.

At the end Kate signs my album and we both get giddy over a green Sharpie.

She really is real.

Dickie Felton

This Is The Kit are on tour.

Check out Loud in Libraries outstanding line-up for 2018.

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