Roots Vibes

Search Choose date

Kathryn Williams & Polly Paulusma @ The Common Rooms 6/10/2023
By Juan Fitzgerald (words/pics)

In the majestic historical setting of the Common Room next to Newcastle Central Station, with its wood panels and wonderous stained glass windows, 100 seats were neatly placed out for a Jumpin Hot Club show & we were treated to an exceptional one-off night of pure indie-folk music from locally based music icon Kathryn Williams & her special guest Polly Paulusma . Label mates & good chums they entertained us with solo sets & joined each other for a five song encore of tunes they wrote together during lockdown. You wouldn’t hear a pin drop all night & in such a special place too. Polly opened the show & as it was the first time, I’d ever saw her play, I thought that she had touches of Joni Mitchell , especially when playing the piano. Otherwise she reminded me of, wait for it ….Kathryn Williams. No wonder they are label mates ! I liked her heartfelt & charming song’s, her soaring voice & she was a more than decent musician. What not to like! Kathryn has played for J’Hot Club for over twenty years now, ever since her Mercury prized album “Little Black Numbers” & hearing that song (not on the album) sang acapella tonight albeit multi tracked with foot pedals was honestly quite amazing. Although “Moon Karaoke” from her latest record “Night Drives” came close, I’ll remember that forever. “Moon” was composed while being driven around Hollywood in an open top car by the record label said Kathryn , with the haunting lyrics “Comets play catch me if you can , Black holes whisper secrets behind their hands ” it was stunning . Another favourite played on acoustic guitar that had everyone hanging onto every word was “Chime Like A Bell” “When love hurts your heart it hurts like hell it Chimes like a bell” . If she’d picked up her Blue Dane electro electric guitar at her side, for that tune, she’d have sounded almost Elliot Smith. Kathryn & Polly came back together after another short interval for the encore and played a lovely lilting duet called “Break Even”. Polly then took to the piano & they played the eerie dance like tune “Big Sky” which they wrote together while roaming around Cambridge. I loved it. Kathryn proclaimed that Polly had been playing piano since the age of three, and Polly countered with “ you’d think I’d be a lot better ”. It was an exceptional evening of smiles , fun & thought provoking music in an unusual Newcastle building that more than lent itself to the occasion.