A humble songwriter will be the first to tell you that they don’t do anything alone. From family members, friends and loved ones, fellow musicians, managers, promoters and the people who spend their hard-earned cash to justify it all, it takes an army to propel someone on stage.
And yet, for all that, as Katherine Priddy strode on stage at the Royal Concert Hall, the single spotlight made the space look cavernous. For a support act, tasked with winning over an audience who have patiently waited through pandemic and peril to see a much-loved artist, there have been easier evenings.
Glasgow once held the reputation of being a fierce judge, slaying English comedians who arrived feeling on top of the world. The city has changed, and of course, the Royal Concert Hall offers plush and pleasant surroundings, but times don’t come much stranger than they do now. If nothing else, the fanbase of Loudon Wainwright III would have been impatient for their hero and seeking value-for-money while they waited.
So, for Katherine Priddy to walk on stage, politely introduce herself and launch into ‘Indigo’, a song she wrote around the age of 16 or 17 indicates the confidence the artist holds. And why shouldn’t she? With six of the set’s seven songs located on her debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath, Katherine has the songs, and the vocals, which at least justify her spot on the bill in such prestigious surroundings.
The album title nods to Wuthering Heights, the book, not the song by the artist who supplied the sound of the summer, as does the second song of the evening, ‘Wolf’.
The literary theme followed, and the cheers which greeted discussion about Greek mythology indicates Glasgow is better read than some would suggest, or that even a Monday night crowd provides artists with the interaction they desire.
Both ‘Icarus’ and ‘Eurydice’ take from ancient tales, but twist them to ponder love, trust and how we manage engagement with others. The story of Icarus has been told many times, and to prove many points, but shifting to the viewpoint of an exasperated lover, hoping for the boundless dreamer to safely land on their feet breathes fresh life into a tale as old as time.
On the album, ‘Eurydice’ is the polished gem, a menacing and marauding number, perfectly capturing the creeping ambiguity of the story. Live, with just the singer and guitar, the howls of uncertainty and prowling sense of picking take the song in another way, but it’s no less bewitching.
Katherine’s love life, and her mother’s quips of the singer dating men with no postcode, took the limelight with ‘Letters from a Travelling Man’. Whether you enjoy love in the face of adversity, or songs with a danceable guitar break, you’re on safe ground here.
As the artist is an English Literature graduate, it would be easy to focus on the stories and tales of the lyrics, but they’re just part of the package. The murmurs post-set, from seat to merch stall, buzzed about the singing qualities and capabilities on show, captivating all the way to the back of the sizable venue, and beyond, as word-of-mouth around the show surely rolls on.
And then there was the rattling and rolling guitar of ‘Letters…’ Pre-gig, ‘Rock Island Line’ powered over the PA (one for the grandparents there) and its verve and enthusiasm sounded as fresh today, as it must have done back then, albeit its wonderful naivety still shines through. The more upbeat moments of Katherine’s set carried that energy and bounce. Come for the folky tales but leave with a spring in your step could be an easy way to sum up the show, and the upbeat feel continued with ‘The Isle of Eigg’.
As stated, Katherine is an English Literature graduate, which also suggests she knows her way around a party or two. The song captures the singer and friends embarking on the island, celebrating its independence, in the hope of drink, fun and memories. It appears the adventure didn’t disappoint, and neither does the song, with egg puns and the slightest twinge of over-indulgence remorse.
‘Northern Sunrise’ a non-album track brought the early and enjoyable set to a close, and the ovation was earnest and more than earned. As Katherine Priddy made her way from the stage, theatre lights causing attendees to blink, the stage looked smaller, and so comfortably conquered, you wouldn’t have been shocked to see a flag of the artist fluttering in the background.
And yet, for the vast majority of attendees, the real star was to come, a beloved name of more than five decades. So with all that, the audience was merely warming up to the event they really came to see. Such is the role of the support artist. There are so many challenges to come, but no one left feeling Katherine Priddy was out of place in such exalted company or surroundings.
The Eternal Rocks Beneath, on Navigator Records, is out now, and our in-depth interview with Katherine Priddy can be found here