Songbyrd Music House recenlty hosted the UK band This Is The Kit — with opening act Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals doing an acoustic solo set.
Full disclosure here: When this show first popped up on my radar, I wanted to go to see Gruff. I’ve been a fan of Super Furry Animals since the mid ’90s and had never had a chance to see them live. But This Is The Kit truly blew me away!
This show proved to be the inverse of my concert mantra “Don’t miss the opening acts.” I listened to This Is The Kit to familiarize myself with the band before writing a review about their live performance, and it was really good. They play music that’s pretty chill for the most part with good lyrics. Before I go on with their show at Songbyrd on Oct. 14, I first need to talk about Gruff’s set.
Gruff (pronounced Griff) is the singer and a guitarist for the Welsh band Super Furry Animals. He’s released several albums on his own and has a new one set for release soon. Take a look at the video for his newest single, “Celestial Candyfloss.”
Watch the official music video for “Celestial Candyfloss” by Gruff Rhys on YouTube:
For this run of dates, Gruff is performing music from his solo catalog and not playing anything from Super Furry Animals. Gruff took a seat on a stool, checked the tuning on his acoustic guitar and began chatting with the audience. He introduced himself and began his set with the song “Sadness Sets Me Free.”
He followed that up with more anecdotes and two new songs, “Bad Friend” and “Celestial Candyfloss.” The highlight of his set was the one-two punch of “Iolo” and “The Swamp.” The first song, “Iolo,” is about a Welsh poet from the 19th century who had forged several medieval manuscripts. “The Swamp” is about Welsh explorer John Evans (who is a relative of Gruff’s), who came to America to travel based on one of the forged manuscripts and died in New Orleans.
Gruff finished his set with cue cards with instructions for the level of applause he was hoping for.
Gruff Rhys Setlist
- Sadness Sets Me Free
- Bad Friend
- Celestial Candyfloss
- Sophie Softly
- The Swamp
- Sensations In The Dark
- Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru
Shortly after Gruff’s set, This Is The Kit hopped on stage to perform at Songbyrd Music House. I had been listening to the band’s studio albums to get more familiar with the music. But th studio albums did not prepare me for the band’s live show. At most other shows, I try to get to the venue to listen to the opening act. This time it was the inverse. I was so impressed with them! And before I get into the performance, I wanted to mention the great atmosphere that night. The audience at Songbyrd was wonderful. The venue is intimate enough that the artist and audience have the opportunity to interact with each other.
The show began with the song “Slider.” I had listened to the studio version and the live version is more stripped down and raw. In fact, the entire set had that feel. Many of the songs felt different than their album versions, which is part of the magic of live music. You can listen to their most recent single, “Inside Outside,” here.
Watch the official music video for “Inside Outside” by This Is The Kit on YouTube:
The main creative force behind This Is The Kit is Kate Stables. She’s the singer and plays guitar, banjo, and recorder as well. Lead guitar duties are handled by Neil Smith, bass by Rozi Plain, and the drums are handled by Lucien Chatin. Throughout the set, Kate interacted with the crowd a great deal. After just a few songs, she produced a limited edition single from somewhere and encouraged everyone to pick it up at the merch table. (I bought one. Don’t judge me. It’s a limited edition!) This Is The Kit pulled most of their set from Careful of Your Keepers, their new studio album from Rough Trade.
There were only a few points where the musicians extended the songs but it was handled so well. Neil had a pretty wicked, biting fuzz to his guitar that cut through everything without blowing the others out.
Kate (who played in a very comfortable-looking pair of red socks) continued her banter between many songs and mentioned an incident that frightened the entire band as they approached DC. They passed a car whose driver appeared to be asleep. They made a point of saying it was NOT a Tesla. As they passed, the driver seemed to rouse himself, then go back to sleep. They hit the gas and didn’t look back.
The band played for about 90 minutes and did not play an encore. At two points in the set, Gruff came back out to sing background vocals for This Is The Kit. The final song, “Kp Going,” was a killer jam with an extended guitar solo.
After exiting the stage, the band broke their equipment down and then hung around and spoke to everyone who stayed. The show was a wonderful surprise. I was able to see Gruff Rhys perform, which I have wanted to do for a long time, and I saw This Is The Kit blow my expectations away with their set. Additionally, I noticed that the house sound at Songbyrd was handled extremely well. The show was loud enough to be powerful and felt, but no one needed ear protection. All in all, it was a fun show at a great venue and I was talking about it for days after.
This Is The Kit setlist
- Goodbye Bite
- Bullet Proof
- Inside Outside
- Found Out
- Moonshine Freeze
- Scabby Head And Legs
- Easy Pickings
- Careful Of Your Keepers
- More Change
- Take You To Sleep
- This Is What You Did
- Bashed Out
- This Is When The Sky Gets Big
- Keep Going
Here are some more photos of This Is The Kit performing at Songbyrd Music House on Oct. 14, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Marc Shea.