“A short but sweet soirée from two vocalists nothing short of remarkable.”
Every smartphone in the room was firmly pocketed throughout the opening set by Katie Pruitt. Apart from mine, that is, furiously tapping out superlatives into a Word document so that I could get my attention back to the show. I hoped that my phone screen wasn’t distracting any of the other ultra-polite audience members in the rugged, dimly-lit dungeon that is Ben Lovett‘s venue Omeara.
Pruitt immediately established herself as an excellent guitarist. With so little material available for listeners, it was only presumable that most of the crowd were unfamiliar with her at the start of the show. The moment they wouldn’t forget, however, was around two minutes into her first song, the stunning ‘Wishful Thinking’, when her voice exceeded the intricate electric guitar intro. Taking centre stage, Pruitt’s expression is limitless in its ability to evoke emotions of listeners. Powerful and hefty, her effortless yells had the audience in perpetual silence, standing to attention.
Ruston Kelly took to the stage as though he was sitting in front of perhaps ten friends, rather than three hundred. But that’s still what we were – friends. Between the “anyway, this one’s about your mom…” and the “your son’s 13 and you let him listen to this shit?” chatter with the crowd, Kelly’s voice was given more opportunity to shine than his 2018 record, Dying Star, gave. Dying Star can sometimes stifle what is truly a singular voice. The venue’s cosy and warm reverb was all it needed, prohibitive of any autotune and showing off a more powerful chest voice that – despite its excellence – his record lacked. These songs thrived in acoustic format where his voice could shine through, alone on the stage and with constant low lighting, almost open mic – style.
When asking for requests, Kelly received a healthy number, and I imagine most of the audience were content with his choices, particularly the Lucie Silvas co-write “Just For The Record”, an example of the night’s meandering versatility despite him being the sole performer on stage. As a parallel, an encore of “Asshole”, in all its honesty and nonchalance, was a great choice, describing his night spent in jail, “some bullshit, it wasn’t really my fault…” Although his moodier material is more than serviceable, his comical side really shines through in the live setting where his rugged realness makes a show of his endearing character.
His set was all too brief, but fully complemented by the cosy venue. Pruitt and Kelly provided an evening of music that satisfied expectations, and threw in plenty of laughs for good measure.