From the camaraderie between herself and the crowd, the familiarity with which they sing the songs along with her, and the fact that both opening acts rejoin her on stage throughout the set, Cate’s show at Islington Assembly Hall vaguely resembles the scene of your mate getting up for a round of karaoke at the pub. Except, of course, the pub in question has an almost 900 capacity, the karaoke set lasts an hour, and your mate is actually a really very good singer.
The Canadian artist’s slice of glittering pop draws on a tome of situationships, almost-boyfriends, and guys she dated “for an atrocious amount of time”, each anecdote moulded neatly into a catchy chorus and toe-tapping melody. She proves to be well-versed in pop culture references, from ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ to the densely footnoted ‘One Hit Wonder’, everywhere her lyrics striking a chord between earnest yearning and tongue-in-cheek observation. On the minimalist piano ballad ‘Can’t Wait To Be Pretty’, however, she is neither. Recalling a COVID-era walk around Camden with her best friend Roy, Cate shares her epiphany: “You should never wait for an idealistic version of yourself to do anything you wanna do.” All her songs have an evident connection with the rapt audience but, as phone torches decorate the ceiling in spotlights, this is the one that seems to hit the hardest.
Enough of feeling emotional – “Are you guys ready to fucking dance?” Cate asks ahead of ‘Get Better’, a fairly slow-burning track that eventually dives into a bouncing second half. It’s one of several songs to benefit from the added umph of its live rendition, backed up by the ever faithful, now enthusiastically dancing crowd. From there the setlist glides from sing-along anthem ‘Stupid’ to the self-aware banger ‘Funny Story’, before settling back down for heartfelt sermon ‘Moments’.
During ‘Ruin’ those at the front of the crowd hold up signs declaring ‘We’d never take you golfing!’, a reference to a questionable date immortalised both in these lyrics and in ‘Stupid’ (the golf course is littered with red flags, apparently). The arm-in-arm swaying chorus falls somewhere between the final scene of a Disney movie and the emotional group hug at the end of a wedding. Either way, it’s a fitting way to feign the end of the show. The real finale comes with ‘Groupie’, a song with a similar vibe but echoing distant Avril Lavigne influences. When Cate leaves the stage it’s with the same energy she entered it with: as somebody among friends.
Words: Caitlin Chatterton
Photo Credit: Hattie Neate