Kate Rusby Live at Christmas DVD
Froots Jan/Feb 2014
After releasing two Christmas albums (2008's Sweet Bells and 2011's While Mortals Sleep) and having established a regular seasonal touring pattern, Kate now proudly showcases, in the live setting of Harrogate's Royal Hall, a selection of the carols and songs she learned during her childhood in South Yorkshire, presenting them for the joy of the world in company with her trusty band (Ed Boyd, Julian Sutton, Duncan Lyall and Damien O'Kane) who are augmented for much of the time by her friendly neighbourhood five-piece brass section.
Those who know Kate will know what to expect, and sure, she springs no surprises, with typically mellow and considered arrangements that gently swing. This is her personal way of passing the tradition on, and very attractive it proves. Kate clearly relishes her role as ambassador for her local traditions, and her personal interpretations of the individual carols and songs are both affectionate and respectful, plainly heartfelt and pleasingly exquisite. The consistent and wistful beauty of hr singing is coupled with her engaging stage personality to make the concert an evening to remember for all the right reasons. This is, of course, a quite different experience from that of being crammed into a Dungworth pub on a Sunday lunchtime in November and feeling and participating in the lusty, swelling harmonies and throaty antiphonal responses. Kate's live show still conveys an unashamed joyousness, but one of a different, more sitback-feelgood kind.
The show presents pieces drawn virtually even-handedly from the two aforementioned albums, as well as recent anthem Walk the Road. There's also Kate's own composition, Home, which exemplifies the sense of warmth and community that the season should bring - happy and genuinely elated, and an antidote to doleful Victorian sentimentality. This spirit is reflected in the vivid recording and comfortingly familiar presentation of the concert, whose fifteen items are punctuated with segments of an interview where Kate relates more about her experience of the South Yorkshire carol tradition.
The DVD's extras comprise Boys' Crimbo Doodles (a seven minute tune-set from the band and brass) and a short animation feature. This release is unlikely to disappoint Kate's target audience, who'll doubtless rate it 'dead good'!