Anna Calvi @ The Corner – 1/2/2012
What a bizarre Wednesday evening at the Corner. At an early 8:00 little troupes of people were already shimmying around the dance floor; a crowd of little billboards making shrewd retro statements. A DJ stood elevated on a small stage near the entrance and played 60’s rock before the set, kind of creating an engagement party vibe rather than channelling the indie music scene. After many a wet and twangy twelve bar blues, Stand By me played, marking the end of the waiting music and reminding me just how charismatic that song really is. And then she appeared; Anna Calvi, hair slicked back, lips painted on and dressed in red.
We had to wait a good couple of minutes in awkward quietness while the guitars were tuned and microphones were placed accordingly, but it gave everyone a chance to notice the projected ocean imagery framing the stage. Finally the shriek of Calvi’s guitar broke the silence. Her reverb was cranked right up and the strings were warm and numb, sounding just like a harp. Using an effect similar to reverse, she created a free time crescendo that was so ominous and foreboding that every eye ball in the room was stuck on her petite figure while every jaw fought the urge to drop in awe. And just when the intro began to feel a little never-ending, some solid four-to-the-floor drums kicked in, breaking the ice and setting the droning and sparse groove for the entire show.
Anna’s powerful voice was laced with Nora Jones trills and her piercing tone mixed with the jungle drum beats created an atmosphere inspired by the natural environment. Some of Calvi’s songs could be used as soundtracks to nature documentaries (mark my words David Attenborough.) The three piece band included another female on synth, and it was she who also jumped on bass guitar for a few numbers, giving those tracks balls and a much needed strength that I was desperately hanging out for during the more electro-driven tracks.
No stranger to a catchy melody, Calvi delivered her choruses with force, her track “Desire” standing out as the easiest to listen to. Many of her songs were very similar to eachother, making them hard to differentiate during an inaugural listen and thus not easily remembered. The presence of the synthesizer helped to give the whole show a wonderful intensity, however the overall volume should have been higher to really reach out to capture and envelop the audience.
Anna Calvi’s show was crafted to journey from delicate but scattered vocal murmurs and raunchy screeching guitar licks, towards more structured verse-chorus party tunes. In this transformation, the young performer showed that she can definitely set a mood, express her visions and be commercially available all at the same time. A job well done.
by Phoebe Spinks
(Photo via Wikipedia)