Joseph’s mu­sic casts its spell in a mag­i­cal hall of mir­rors

The Scotsman - - Reviews - FIONA SHEP­HERD

Kathryn Joseph Tramway, Glas­gow

Mu­sic and theatre have long been happy cre­ative bed­fel­lows, with each medium feed­ing off the other’s par­tic­u­lar en­ergy. We’ve grown as ac­cus­tomed to see­ing bands on stage rock­ing out as part of the dra­matic ac­tion as to watch­ing mu­si­cians cre­ate tour­ing the­atri­cal spec­tac­u­lars.

The part­ner­ing of spec­tral song­writer Kathryn Joseph with Glas­gow’s mu­sic/theatre cross­over spe­cial­ists Cryptic is an in­spired mar­riage, spawn­ing this in­tense, in­ti­mate, im­mac­u­lately stylised pre­sen­ta­tion of Joseph’s new al­bum From When I Wake the Want Is di­rected by Josh Arm­strong and per­formed by joseph from start to fin­ish.

Joseph makes mu­sic to lean in to any­way but from the out­set the stand­ing au­di­ence were cran­ing their necks to fathom what was in­volved in James John­son’s strik­ing hall of mir­rors stage set, a beau­ti­fully con­ceived at­trac­tion in its own right, with ver­ti­cal strips sur­round­ing Joseph’s fab­u­lous up­right pi­ano or­gan and a cou­ple of quirky black can­de­labra made from the limbs of an­gle­poise lamps.

Joseph, stately in a pink and yel­low dress cre­ated by body ar­chi­tect Mar­keta Kra­tochvilova, nor­mally eye­balls her au­di­ence in­tently as she per­forms but she be­gan the show fac­ing away into one of the mir­rors, fix­ing her stare by re­flec­tion.

Joseph of­ten de­scribes her­self as a crazy witch but there is noth­ing malev­o­lent about the spell she casts with her mes­meric mu­sic. For the next hour, she held the au­di­ence rapt with a skele­tal suite of heart­break and hope, only oc­ca­sion­ally break­ing the reverie by ris­ing from her pi­ano stool to sip from a wine glass slot­ted into one of the spi­dery sculp­tures.

Her qua­v­ery, vul­ner­a­ble voice came close to grief­stricken ul­u­la­tion on Tell My Lover, mask­ing a darker, ob­ses­sive mes­sage about hang­ing on to a re­la­tion­ship like a pos­ses­sion.

She moved from frag­ile, cir­cu­lar pat­terns on the pi­ano to del­i­cate legato notes and on­wards into the sat­is­fy­ing la­ment We Have Been Loved By Our Moth­ers be­fore end­ing on a sweet heart­felt trib­ute to her daugh­ter and her part­ner.

Joseph’s child woman tones are of­ten com­pared to Kate Bush and, though she can­not match her song­writ­ing ge­nius, this ex­quis­ite piece came over like a solo cham­ber ver­sion of Bush’s 2014 Lon­don res­i­dency, doused in Nich Smith’s monochro­matic light­ing de­sign of deep warm blues, vi­o­lets and pinks which com­ple­mented the metic­u­lously pitched arc of the mu­sic.

Tol­booth, Stir­ling tonight, Perth Con­cert Hall, 17 Septem­ber

Kathryn Joseph held the au­di­ence rapt with a skele­tal suite of heart­break and hope

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