Kate Rusby, Gig Review. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Christmas means something different to everybody, whether they celebrate it or not, whether it is in the joy of family, togetherness, being with friends, surrounded by strangers but with a common love in which to bond, or in just the thought of a set of songs that grab their attention and make the time of year more thoughtful, reflective, even for some bearable. Music is what binds all when the first drops of snow hit the ground and the carol singers can be found with lamps in hand, a weapon against the darkness of the northern sky.

It is a weapon wielded with arguably the happiest of voices, the cheeriest of demeanours and the exultant of songs at any one’s disposal. Instead of a lamp, winter scarves wrapped around the neck keeping out the chill and the grateful thanks of a mulled wine after a night on a square trying to catch the passers-by attention, instead what the often called Barnsley Nightingale, Kate Rusby, offers is series of delightful, high spirited love for songs that would fit right at home in her native town as well as on the big stage.

The lamp replaced by two giant Christmas trees on the edge of the Philharmonic stage, a static reindeer stood to attention, and a band which complimented Ms. Rusby’s presence and style throughout the evening to great effect. It may have been a couple of years since the singer from the other side of the Pennines made the audience of the Philharmonic Hall’s hearts beat with so much love but that time in between was soon shoved aside as the smiles and joy resounded through the Hope Street venue.

With Damien O’ Kane, Josh Clarke, Duncan Lyle, Nick Cooke, Aaron Jones and the tremendous backing of the Brass Boys all combining perfectly to the night and the sound so swirling, so soft that the crowd could believe that there was fresh, almost delicate, snow falling around them, Kate Rusby once again thrilled and played to a crowd that could not but help feel held tight against the singer’s soul.

With songs from her latest album, Angels & Men and a collection of tracks, yuletide harmonies and a segment in which the men on stage were allowed with a cheeky smile to boy up the set, Kate Rusby radiated spirit of Christmas yet to come. In songs such as Hark Hark, Let It Snow, Hail Chime On, the wonderful Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo, Paradise, Sunny Bank, Bradfield and the enchanting Big Brave Bill Saves Christmas, the night was ablaze with colour, true festive panache and down to Earth warmth; a night to savour, to remember for all that is good when someone smiles with humanity and luminosity at you.

Ian D. Hall