Anna Calvi Gig, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Tuesday 1st November 2011

Posted: November 10, 2011 in Alternative Music, Indie, Popular Music, Rock Music, Uncategorized
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Anna Calvi, O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush, Tuesday 1st November

Anna Calvi captivates on guitar at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK

Anna Calvi has a remarkable gift. It ‘s a rare thing that an artist and her band Mally Harpaz and Daniel Maiden-Wood, with just a guitar, drums, percussion and considerable  unique voice can produce a live sound that can fill up a space as if there were four or five more instruments in the band. But that exactly what Anna Calvi did at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. First outings for a new artist are not always good but one of the benefits is that, you get to hear most of their debut album. Well, I was counting and I believe all tracks from Calvi’s self album were played. Each rendition was good with the occasional bits of brilliance thrown in. Appropriately starting with the instrumental guitar number “Rider’s to the Sea”, appropriate because it’s the first track of her eponymous debut album, she introduced virtuosity from the start with the guitar. The melodies sound simple but the depth in the sound was plain to hear. The telecaster guitar was played like a swirling harp on certain solos.  “Rider to the Sea” crept directly into “No more words” as in album order, the vocals resembling a kind of angelic deep voiced femme fatale lightly playing off a style of twang guitar Duane Eddy would have been proud of. Black out, the most played Calvi track this year was performed competently enough but could not compete with the edgy tension of “I’ll be your Man or the pounding drum beat of Suzanne and I, the latter giving clearly having taken its inspiration from a mix of late 70’s Bowie’s Heroes and 80’s band like Echo and the Bunnymen with Calvi’s rich voice having similar qualities to Siouxsie Sioux.  In fact there were many nods to the late 70s and early 80s. In “Desired”, you could even the influence of The Pretenders.

Dressed in her ubiquitous red shirt and high heels, Calvi at times looked unduly nervous and kept the audience interaction to a minimum. At least she has now lost that rather annoying Billy Idol type pout that used to appear in some performances in 2011. Other notable moments from the show was the Elvis Presley track “Surrender” delivered like a brooding aria, an amazing guitar solo on Love, won’t be Leaving that took my breath away.  In the encore she played The Devil and her own unique version of Edith Piaf’s “Jezebel” with a Mexican sounding guitar. Calvi’s voice remarkable though it is, is nothing like Piaf’s. Maybe that is a good thing as it gives the song a new interpretation?

Anna Calvi and Band at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, UK, Tuesday 1st November 2011

Anna Calvi and her band are musician’s musicians and for that , the venue of Shepherd’s Bush Empire  was a perfect showcase for their talent. Calvi has been much hyped this year but she should not listen to this. In this age of fleeting band and the next big thing, Anna Calvi, needs to hold to her core base and remain true to her music. If she does this and produces quality performances like this one at the Empire, she will be here for the long term.

  1. Andrea says:

    ohhh She’s coming over here soon for a festival – you recommend?

    • londongigger says:

      Hi Andea, Yeah, I do. The album takes a little getting into cause of her unique vocal style and also it sounds a bit retro newwave 70’s but after a few listens I must admit I was hooked. She’s also a very fine guitarist -made the guitar sound like a harp at times. I hope if you see her at a festival it’s under cover cos it might lose something in translation open air.

      All the best

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