Ah, Reading Festival. Like a crèche for giddy 16 year olds clutching their GCSE results in one hand and a can of Dark Fruits in the other, the infamous soft-core-rock-grunge festival opened its gates again this year for the forty-fifth time. Although myself and my group were by far among the eldest there (something of a novelty for 21 year olds), it seemed that the spirit of secondary school hadn’t quite left one of my fellow campers. After downing a bottle of Jack Daniels he proceeded to do arguably the daintiest, politest vomit I’ve ever seen. Inside our tent. On the first night.
The following evening at Fatboy Slim I truly thought I was a goner in a rather sizeable crowd crush, only escaping the throngs by madly gesturing to a security guard and telling him I thought I might die. I can’t really remember much of Saturday. So, come Sunday morning I was bruised, battered and, frankly, just wanted somewhere reasonably vomit-free to sit down in. By a stroke of luck, Katherine Ryan happened to be on the Alternative Stage that afternoon. So, sunburnt and definitely having smelt better in my life, I wandered along to see her set.
After the hungover crowd had warmed up a bit, Ryan soon had us on her side after assimilating seamlessly with a few cracks about the weather – BAKING, in case you were wondering. A proper scorcher.
Although her acerbic quips about fellow celebs (seriously, no one is safe, from Lena Dunham to Nicki Minaj) have earned her the title of Canada’s answer to Joan Rivers, her set at Reading seemed much softer than her usual material. On the agenda instead were tales of single motherhood, ex-boyfriends, dogs, rabbits and her daughter Violet’s British accent – altogether much more of a family affair. Although I wouldn’t go as far to use the word “wholesome”. Despite the obvious shift in material, Ryan managed to retain her just-on-the-right-side-of-sardonic tone that brought her fame when talk turned to her daughter’s father. As I said, no one is safe. Her assertion that some of us are just not built to be in relationships clearly resonated with a fair few jaded partners in the crowd. One lady looked like she may need a quick visit to the medical tent for a temporary neck brace with the amount of nodding along she was doing.
A pleasant surprise was Ryan interrupting the set several times to sporadically compliment girls in her line of vision; a refreshingly pure move when live comedy is often guilty of having a bit of a mean-spirited rep. Her on stage selfie with a teenage fan, Stephanie, went viral as Ryan imparted one final piece of wisdom: “you can’t get pregnant by the mouth!” After three long nights spent in the chunder tent, a bit of Canadian cheer was just what I needed. But even if you have access to clean sanitation, I would 10/10 recommend Katherine if you’re a fan of funny ladies. Her hour-long set was the exact joie de vive tonic that the festival doctor ordered.
You can buy tickets to Katherine Ryan’s upcoming tour here: https://www.livenation.co.uk/artist/katherine-ryan-tickets