Gig review: A very special night with Katy Moffatt in Rothesay

Katy Moffatt played to a sell-out audience at St Paul's Church Hall in Rothesay on Wednesday, August 28.
Katy Moffatt played to a sell-out audience at St Paul's Church Hall in Rothesay on Wednesday, August 28.

Katy Moffatt is defiant. Katy is defiant on behalf of everyone who has loved and lost. On behalf of everyone who has suffered the sharp, damaging slight of rejection, and the pain that remains long after the embers of love have finally died.

She sings for every one of us who knows and feels, deep down, that gritty defiance will get us through the slough of pain that threatens after failed love affairs. It is not that she helps pass unbroken the shared thread of emotions, but that she does this so well.

She touches her audiences’ hearts, and makes connections between disparate people. She joins the hearts of strangers, and makes connections where before none existed. Katy Moffatt makes the very private a common, shared experience. She has a gift, and it was that rare gift that Katy Moffatt gave to her audience in Rothesay.

I am sure we all sometimes play the game of speculative conjecture: of wondering just who a contemporary performer reminds us of most. It could be an artist from a different era; it is not necessarily a physical resemblance, nor even that they share a type of music, a country of origin or even the same time frame. But occasionally, despite all the differences in history, culture and musical genre, there is a remarkable resemblance.

It is not that the artists are the same, but that the effect they have upon audiences is as powerful and as emotionally compelling. And it is then that a comparison is apt and appropriate - and generates an insight into a current performer.

And what a performance by Katy Moffatt. And because of her effect upon the Rothesay audience, Katy Moffatt reminded me of Edith Piaf.

Sure, there are obvious physical similarities. They are both tiny, tough women who are prepared to stand and to sing alone in a harsh, cruel, single spotlight. But it is what they could both do in that spotlight that bears comparison.

They both have the gift of transporting an audience into their emotional world and sharing it with their audience. And they then hold their audience with the power and range of their voices and the raw compulsion of their emotional energy.

There is no digital artifice; there are no backing tracks; there are no gimmicks. There are no distractions. There is just huge ability and talent, honed and practised.

Katy Moffatt stands in her spotlight and sings of betrayal, of ‘Cardboard Men’, of “all the pieces fitting only when they fall apart. She has range, power and delicate control in a voice which can sneak into rarely-opened-up bits of the human spirit.

And she does it all with wit and irony. As an aside, she remarked that she was going to sing an American folk song, which means “a song stolen from a black man languishing in prison”.

She may not personally “look for hope in a glass”, but she sure can convince us that we all share the capacity to be unlucky in the search for the “hearts’ four leaf clover” - and how miserable it might be to wait for a weasel of a lover in the “Evangeline Hotel”.

Katy Moffatt, and all the recent artists presented by Transclyde Music, remind us how much musical talent is playing in Britain’s pubs, clubs and back rooms. But in order to hear real music we have to turn down the radio, switch off the television and get out to a live gig.

Only then can we feel the power of a real performer. Katy Moffatt must be thanked for giving Rothesay a very special, very valuable night.