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Kate Simko and the LEO: Women and the Hall

SEEN has attended three gigs now to see Kate Simko and her London Electronic Orchestra. Once was in the basement of Phonica Records, once at the Jazz Café in Camden and last night in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall. Not only that, Simko curated an evening of female-led creative activity as part of Women and the Hall. What could be more appropriate on this centenary of Women’s suffrage with International Women’s Day upon us? Women And The Hall celebrates the women who formed the Royal Albert Hall’s history and were instrumental in the fight for women’s suffrage, and provides a platform for the women who are shaping our future, through a season of panels, film screenings and performances.

Kate Simko is a musical magpie, remixing Philip Glass, collaborating with artists like Jamie Jones and Katy B, writing for orchestra, scoring films, and captivating audiences worldwide with her LEO shows and at clubs worldwide as an in-demand house DJ. Her music reflects the influences of underground sounds, as well as her background in classical piano and jazz music.

The art of Lauren Baker adorned the room, the light-based and neon nature of her pieces being particularly well-served by the lighting, especially her glittering planets. There was a short film #drawtheline, building upon the #metoo and #timesup campaigns to highlight an end to sexual harassment across all industries, then another short, ‘Domestic Policy’, starring Lesley Manville, that poked fun at the post-WW1 attempts to get women back in the kitchen.

There were two solo performers Katy B and Holly Walker (of Maribou State) who hushed an enthusiastic room with the sweetness and poignancy of their voices then came the orchestra itself, as ever, combining classical music and club beats to great effect. The standout for SEEN was a version of a Philp Glass number for flute and sax which was just knockout. That’s what I love about Kate Simko; every time you see her and her talented musicians, there’s always something new and fresh to admire. The visuals by L’Aubaine were also very strong, the perfect complement to the music without ever overpowering what was going on onstage. There were many abstract and figurative images, the most striking being birds flying singly and in flocks and slowly emerging flowers. Quite beautiful. It’s great to attend a live music event that celebrates creativity across the board. More please.