From the mesmeric lighting with stark contrasting colours, to the instrumentation bolstering her art-rock discography, Anna Calvi performed a highly memorable set reeling off her latest album, Hunter.
Commencing the evening with the title track from Hunter, its bass lines and heavy-handed synth chords immediately set the tone, forming the backbone to the majority of the set.
Calvi struck the audience with the breadth of her operatic vocal range. From the whispers of “I want us in the air of paradise” on ‘Indies or Paradise’, to the wailing vocal solos of ‘Don’t Beat the Girl Out Of My Boy’, Calvi’s voice triumphed throughout this theatrical performance.
Calvi imparted such an aura from her onstage presence – wearing a vibrant leather jacket and slicked-back hair, she gave an otherworldly impression at this ancient venue. The somewhat androgynous nature to her visual set bled into much of her lyricism, predominantly in tracks such as ‘Suzanne and I’, ‘As a Man’, and ‘I’ll Be Your Man’. For the latter, Calvi constantly swapped and changed preconceived gender roles, exclaiming “I’ll be your man” underneath nitty-gritty guitar riffs. The mystery behind these arbitrary aspects of Calvi’s world culminated in a cryptic and engaging set.
As the evening progressed, many of the tracks began to overlap in their structural similarities: beginning with faint synth chords, groovy guitar riffs, and later inviting booming drum clashes to lace it all together. Unfortunately, Calvi’s vocals bordered on trite at times – typified by her reversion to vocal ‘wailing’ when her guitar malfunctioned during its solo section.
The encore brought a series of surprises however. Calvi performed ‘Eden’, to reset the atmospheric tone, and covered the seminal protopunk band Suicide, with ‘Ghost Rider’ as the evening’s finale. ‘Eden’ offered one final listen to Calvi’s falsetto vocals while the cover gave a softer recital of the gnarling, bass-driven punk track. This unorthodox cover was a pertinent way to conclude the show. The track’s backstory was evidently influential to the colourful world of the Marvel character which transcended into the resonating walls of The Roundhouse.
Anna Calvi proved to her contemporaries the impact of a show’s visuals. From the hallucinogenic lightshow, to the elusive fashion design and the physical exertion of Calvi’s on-stage character. This was a show to remember and one which hypnotised the audience, giving them a peek into her illusive yet illustrative world.