Live Review: Anna Calvi

31 Oct

Concorde 2: Sunday, October 30 2011
A quick scan around a rammed Concorde 2 proved that pure class and natural talent makes a mockery of the music industry’s marketing moguls.

There was no target audience for them to tap into here; this sold-out crowd was made up of every age-group from teens to 60-somethings.

And it didn’t take long to see why.

An older, bearded fella nearby went weak at the knees every time Calvi unfurled some seriously nifty fretwork on her intros. While he was getting off on her technical prowess, the lad in front appeared dumbstruck by her presence, seemingly beguiled as she stared intently, pouting with her bright-red lips.

You can’t blame either of them. While her eponymous debut LP was – for the main part – a deliciously dark piece of musical melodrama, on stage it became a stunning spectacle. Calvi was simply captivating.

Her steely glares, rhythmic jolts and soaring vocal range entranced, even managing to stitch together the more sparse songs, which on the album occasionally appeared distant instead of intense.

It was her stark contrasts, however, which really impressed. Vocally, Calvi flitted from being a silky-smooth seductress with vulnerable whispers to unleashing impassioned, dramatic howls. Her guitar playing, meanwhile, veered from intricate bluesy riffs to scything, spine-tingling chords.

Musically, it was magical, but there were other forces at work here too; Calvi is a high priestess of control. Every time the haunting Suzanne and I threatened to build to a euphoric climax, she reeled it in, cranking up the suspense.

It’s a tactic she’s perfected, only really letting go when former single Desire reached a clattering, sing-along crescendo.

There have been some outstanding live shows in Brighton this year, but with two months to go, this is really going to take some beating.


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