Katie Doherty

Arc, Stockton

29 April 2023

Katie Doherty's song writing has changed over the years. Her arrangements feel more powerful, her words more subtle, and her messages more political. I don't want to use the clichéd term "grown", because I believe her writing was already fully grown when I first encountered it 15 years ago, but it has definitely changed. And that may be why these days she barely plays anything from her first album.

But tonight she plays two of them, by special request. Something Warmer, which was the first song that made me fall in love with her music, and Beautiful Colours, which was the first time she made me cry. She plays them alone, voice and piano, and they sound different from what I'm used to. The way she uses her voice now is different to how it was then, and she has played with the tune arrangements and the piano ornamentation. But they sound amazing. They sound perfect. They are the songs I fell in love with, and I couldn't ask for more from a concert.

These are the only two songs she plays alone. For the rest of the 90+ minute set of more recent songs, she is accompanied, as always, by Grace Smith (violin and backing vocals) and Dave Gray (melodeon, backing vocals, and stories). And, unexpectedly, a choir suddenly springing up from the audience to add harmonies to the choruses of We Burn. It's a remarkable bit of staging, and transforms an already amazing song into something magical.

Magical is really the only word I can use to describe Katie Doherty. For 15 years she's been enchanting me with her music. And tonight, contrasting her earliest songs with her latest, she's reminded me that, no matter how many other singers I listen to, Katie Doherty is still my favourite song writer.

And that's it. I'm not going to write any more than that. There's nothing I could write that would do justice to her talent.

Best song writer in the world. That's all.