Live Review: EMA

16 Sep

Green Door Store: Tuesday, September 8 2011

Tonight was the perfect example of how the trials and tribulations of a few carnage-fuelled months on the road can help, not hinder, musicians.

In May, at her second Great Escape festival show in six hours, and the final show of a lengthy tour, EMA (Erika Anderson) was boozed-up, boisterous and bolshie.

Wearing ripped black jeans and covered in sweat with her long, bleached blonde hair stuck to her face, she oozed cool and attitude. 

She brazenly spat out songs about loss, loathing, peering over the abyss and, er, viking ships, from her debut LP Past Life Martyred Saints while stumbling into the crowd and getting in the faces of those in the front row.

Fast forward four months to this show – the first date of a new tour – and EMA and her band were far more laid back. More’s the shame.

Here, her performance was nervous, shy even. She lacked the swagger and raw emotion that her dark and doom-drenched songs deserved and had made her stand out back in May.

To be fair, her riff-laden, drone-like efforts were given a more accurate showing with regard to her recorded sound. The fuzzed-up barre chords were tuned down and her sultry, vulnerable vocals and sweet melodies were pushed to the fore.

As impressive at it sounded, the sum total of her performance lacked the urgency and vitriol her lyrics demand.

She seemed to gain confidence towards the end of the set, stalking the stage with her mic lead wrapped noose-like around her neck as she closed the set with album highlight California.

The ranting, spoken word verses were accompanied with perfect pop-star  gestures, striking poses and a barrel-load of energy.

But it wasn’t enough. Having previously looked like a star in the making, at times during this show she seemed to be going through the motions.

If solace is needed, get a ticket for the last night of the tour; On past experience, it’ll be a belter.

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