Brighton Fringe 2013
Husband and wife team of Nick Pynn and Kate Daisy Grant perform a range of their songs that span blue grass to bubblegum pop, and everywhere in between.
Nick Pynn came on stage first, explaining that he was going to do a few solo numbers, then be joined by Grant. He opened with So Many Dynamos, a palindromic instrumental played on his homemade dulcimer that he live looped to play backwards, while accompanying it on the same instrument. He moved onto cover Moondog’s Bird’s Lament (a piece designed for four saxophones) on his violin with aplomb, bashing it with steel brushes, plucking and bowing and layering track upon track. Genius. Pynn’s affable bumbling on stage belied his talent, appearing to not quite knowing what he was doing, but evidently in complete control at all times. Each song was introduced with a short story of its origin and the creative process that went into it.
After wowing the audience with his own blend on indescribable “avant-folk” music, he was joined by Grant who accompanying him on the piano, cello, mandoello and numerous other instruments. The pair’s expert use of building multi-layered live loops gave the impression that there was in fact and entire orchestra on stage.
Much of the duo’s equipment was introduced and had seemingly been anthropomorphized, with a set of wine glasses, known as “The Crystal Sisters”, and terrible puns such as Umberto, the echo peddle.
The first half finished with psychedelic Hear Comes Everybody featured a recording of James Joyce reading Finnegan’s Wake, “It’s just gone out of copyright,” Pynn cheekily informed us.
The second half focused on Grant’s more poppy songs and opened with One Thing You Should Know About Me, a lighthearted cautionary tale of too much honesty in a relationship. Grant’s impressively strong vocals and musical skill was akin to other great female performers like Tori Amos, Kate Bush and a less aggressive Amanda Palmer. After performing the haunting, Place a Table, Grant informed the audience she wouldn’t get too serious and interspersed her more serious tunes with “silly ones”.
Grant made pains to point out that her jaunty pop song Ding Dong, The Bitch is Dead, was in no way written about a recently deceased former Prime Minister, and the impressive track would have be perfectly at home being sung by Florence and the Machine. This was followed by Lighthouse, a genuinely affecting paean to her mother
The duo performed an encore, with Pynn finishing up on the blues grass classic, Orange Blossom Special, fiddling so fast his bow was a blur, and leaving the audience gasping with delight, but grateful for the slower finale from Grant.
A wonderful evening of an incredibly talented husband and wife who are currently half-way through their UK tour. It was a joy to see them return to a home audience to record this performance as a live album. Catch them if you can.