The Juno soundtrack, Moldy Peaches and Uncluded singer is back, and her 14th April show at the Islington Assembly Hall was a fantastic “hey, it’s me again!”
The first support act, Clyde from Your Heart Breaks, sang some beautiful songs and showed videos to go with them. Clyde called Kimya onstage for a touching trans themed song, and showcased a section of the stop-motion animation that’s currently in the making.
The second support, Little Wings, was a very beardy singer who had a group of fans in the audience. Continuing the night’s line in beautiful songs, Little Wings sang a Merle Haggard cover and talked about life, death and getting older.
Kimya Dawson opened by opening up; she told us she’d had trouble writing new songs, looked to her previous songs and realised how much she sings about the ocean, before singing us the sea shanty that broke her song-writing dry spell. Her set was a good mix of old and new, and she warned us pretty early on that she intended to make as many people cry as she could.
Her new songs included a present to a friend who is very sick, and had asked people to visualise her growing old and being there as her young daughter grows up. Her older songs included the reaching-out lyrics of Loose Lips and the recovery song Year Ten. If anyone can make your cry with their songs, it’s Kimya Dawson, and she didn’t hold back.
It wasn’t just an emotional night, it was a political one as well. Kimya talked about a major issue close to her heart and very relevant at the moment; police violence and racial injustice. In fact, she left a pointed silence in Same Shit/Complicated where she used to sing “there are some good cops in Madison, Wisconsin”, explaining she has had people quote her lyrics at her as reason to stop criticising the police force as a whole. There was a new song with lyrics about the pain of facing institutional racism and having hope as a black person in the USA.
Seeing Kimya Dawson isn’t just about listening to her music but live, and she shared insight into her life. We heard a cute anecdote about how her daughter had been sleeping behind the merchandise stall, and she updated her age and length of sobriety. I’ve often said being a fan of Kimya Dawson is dual experience, and even with the barrier by the stage it felt like a very intimate gig. She responded to shouts from the audience, including “You’re a goddess!”, staffed her own merchandise stall and made sure she had time to say hello and hug everyone who wanted to afterwards.
If you’ve ever listened to her music, seeing her live is an experience you won’t want to miss. This show didn’t disappoint.