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Live Review: Anna Calvi

29 May 2014 | 3:14 pm | Chris Familton

"Rounding out with a striking, stomping rendition of Jezebel, Calvi was given a much-deserved standing ovation for a passionate and faultless performance."

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Anna Calvi's excellent performance at Laneway Festival a few years ago was outdoors in daylight, probably not the optimal place to experience her live show. A retreat indoors therefore made perfect sense and Calvi responded with spine-tingling results.

Calvi's music is all about dynamics and mood and from Suzanne & I's first crashing collision of guitar and drums everything felt in alignment – the lighting, the sound mix, the surrounds. From there on she travelled between her two albums, playing a large portion of both. The songs sat comfortably alongside one another suggesting that Calvi has a clear idea of the sound and style she wants from her music. Her twin weapons on stage were her voice, which stretched from whispered intimacy to full-throated howls, and her exemplary guitar-playing. The first taste the audience got of that was the spiralling arpeggios of Eliza – only a hint of the Hendrix-esque fireworks that would be periodically lit throughout the show – whenever she threw her head back and coaxed squalls of notes and noise from her Telecaster.

As well as Calvi can do surging artful rock music, she can also strip things back as she did on the haunting Sing To Me, with its lush instrumentation and otherworldly siren vocals. It was akin to the places that a band like Portishead can take you at their most atmospheric. The contrast was I'll Be Your Man, with its stop-start glam stomp that worked much better live than on record, the band exploding with precision and real intensity. A solo cover of Springsteen's I'm On Fire traveled from sultry whisper to lustful holler, a perfect choice of a well-covered song that she made her own. Rounding out with a striking, stomping rendition of Jezebel, Calvi was given a much-deserved standing ovation for a passionate and faultless performance.