Live Review: Kate Kirby – YES, Manchester

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

Katy Kirby’s album Cool Dry Place arrived back in the February of 2021 to rave reviews. It’s full of shimmering indie folk pop tunes, but a deeper dive into Kirby’s lyrics reveal insight into the psyche of this young musician from Texas. The album is a sweetly layered affair full of iridescent musical flourishes, so the absence of a band this evening illuminates this element of her craft. The wonderful acoustics of the YES basement in Manchester, further contribute to tonight’s delicate performance.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

Kirby does reveal some insight in to her songs as the evening progresses. Particular highlights from her debut record include ‘Eyelids’ and ‘Tap Twice’ and there’s a reference to her strict evangelical upbringing, but there’s certainly no bitterness. Instead, there’s a self-deprecating streak running through the set list and it’s one that the intimate Manchester audience appreciate.

Katy also acknowledges that she currently only has a handful of songs, but we do get treated to a couple of freshly penned compositions enhancing the unpretentious character of the Cool Dry Place material. The title track from this record is an absolute delight presented in this stripped-back fashion, as are the delicate ‘Secret Language’ and ‘Portals’, but you do end up craving the ethereal album versions of this song in particular, which is blessed with shimmering harps and floaty keys, complimenting Katy’s aching vocals.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

Katy acknowledges a love of C# that the absence of a band allows her to pursue, as well as a recognition that she finds it difficult to end her songs. This is reinforced by her regularly needing to inform us that yes, the song has indeed concluded, and we all applaud warmly. All these subtle nuances of Katy’s personality and her performance endear her to the Manchester audience further but the evening comes to an end all too soon with a perfect rendition of The Handsome Family song ‘So Much Wine’. There’s a sombre timbre to the original but Katy manages to add an elegant beauty to the song, which proves captivating and caps off a wonderful evening in her company.

Iain Fox


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