Concert Review: Anna Calvi slays dragons at Pop-Kultur

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“Force of nature” is not a phrase that should be used lightly, but it might be the only way to accurately describe Anna Calvi’s performance at Pop-Kultur last Wednesday night.

The English singer-songwriter played a set that flaunted her virtuosic guitar abilities, impressive operatic vocal range and unflinchingly furious energy, resulting in an incredibly moving show that left jaws on the floor.

Considering the rich orchestral textures that appear on her three studio albums, it was a surprisingly simple setup. Drummer Alex Thomas captured all the subtleties of the studio arrangements with a simple drum kit and minimal electronic setup. Even more impressive was multi-instrumentalist Mally Harpaz, who filled out each song with organs, synth, guitar and percussion. The lights and production emphasised a dramatic black and red colour scheme that beautifully embodied the raw power on display.

…garnered applause like the audience were witnessing circus tricks…

Most of the night’s material came from Calvi’s latest album, “Hunter”. Guitar solos on tracks like “Indies or Paradise” and “Riders on the Sea” were frighteningly intense, and many of the more theatrical vocal moments (such as the bridge in “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy”), garnered applause like the audience were witnessing circus tricks. In the quieter moments of “Wish”, it felt like Calvi was channeling PJ Harvey, though by the end of the extended outro it was impossible to think of anyone else but the fiery tornado of energy on stage. The trio finished up with a cover of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider”, further showcasing Calvi’s versatility and uncompromising energy. Feedback swelled in a storm of strobe lights as she left the stage, before it abruptly came to a complete stop and light returned to the venue.

This was a show that completely took over the room. Anna Calvi is an artist at the top of her creative game, and her live show was everything I could have hoped for. Honestly, it rattled me to my core. If you ever get a chance to see her, do yourself a favour and take it.

1 Comment

  • Reply September 16, 2019

    Stephen Power

    This was a great review. Hadn’t listened to Anna Calvi before but this review convinced me to try her music out. What’s the name of the author of this piece? I’d like to read more of his reviews in the future

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