Cat Burns at Koko Review | Capturing hearts and minds in Camden

Fresh from supporting the European leg of Ed Sheeran’s mammoth Mathematics tour, Cat Burns showed us all she’d learnt in a tight, expressive showing at Koko.

Cat Burns


Love flows in all directions. You’re either reeling from it, searching for it, or bursting at the seams with it. For Cat Burns, it took a little while to indeed find it; to work out just who she loves and, in turn, to love herself. But at her show at Koko’s revamped venue was virtually palpable.

The Streatham-born, former BRIT school soulstress had come out during lockdown, revealing to her TikTok followers in June 2020 that she was queer. Her track ‘Free’, released the following year, isn’t just an uplifting tune but a reflection of her newfound state of being since then. (It’s also a track that was crying out for a remix – a call answered earlier this year by Dutch duo Shermanology).

More recently, Burns has come off a three-month tour supporting none other than Ed Sheeran. If ever there was a touring baptism of fire, that would be it – and it showed.

Cat Burns

It helped that for her headline show in Camden, she in turn, was supported by Caity Baiser; who, though relatively new to the scene, cast something of a throwback figure, reminiscent of an early Lily Allen or Kate Nash, regaling stories of cheating exes and questionable romantic escapades — and with the tunes to match. Her track ‘X&Y’ is about as catchy as they come, whilst ‘Friendly Sex’ is a straight-talking number, warning against sexual encounters with mates.

It took some time for Burns to emerge onstage. And there weren’t necessarily the best options to watch her from. But you can hardly blame the venue nor the singer’s evident popularity — something she’d later endearingly question, wondering why people would part with their “hard-earned cash” to see her.

The fact is, she gave us plenty of reasons. The singer chose not to begin with her most famous hit, ‘Go’, the platinum-selling track which is currently the biggest song from a solo female artist this year – and has seen her team up with Sam Smith for a reworked rendition. Instead, that, and its accompanying drum’n’bass remix, would be preserved for the very end.

There was something of a love-in for her tour partner, Ed Sheeran, as Burns perched on the stage and vocally dovetailed between Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’ (written by Sheeran) and ‘The A Team’. And Burns has clearly received some sonic, pop influence from the ginger-haired supremo, too, as the track ‘People Pleaser’, set for release this Friday, would attest to.


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Ultimately, it’s often not what you play but how you play it. And Cat Burns has picked up an ability to engage with her audience. The show had begun with declaring an appreciation for where she is now as an artist and for creating a space where everyone was free to be and free to love.

There were tests of an “OG status” among her fans, and songs of honest admission, like ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Self Esteem’ — the latter being an unreleased track, expressing the feeling of insecurity within a relationship.

But no one need have felt insecure at this gig. And after admitting her self-doubts as an artist, the atmosphere she’d created was all too willing to remind her, with a thumping yell, that she deserved to be there.

The star is now set to join Mr Sheeran on tour in North America next year. And whilst her show didn’t completely floor me, closing with ‘Go’, the aforementioned hit which has been an introductory tune to Cat Burns for many, it was just another reminder of the future fortune US audiences shall enjoy.

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