Anna Calvi

Anna Calvi at the Bowery Ballroom, New York, New York, May 26th, 2011

Jun 02, 2011 Bookmark and Share


Few reviews have been able to discuss Anna Calvi’s music without mentioning David Lynch, but the connection is fiction. Her sound does owe a lot to Angelo Badalamenti’s scores for Lynch’s films (which Calvi has cited as an influence)—and her performance wouldn’t seem all that out-of-place were they to be witnessed in Twin Peaks’ Black Lodge or on a tiny stage inside Jack Nance’s radiator, rather than a New York rock club. Perhaps when the filmmaker is finished recording electronic albums and selling coffee, Calvi would prove to be the perfect muse; a less ethereal Julee Cruise, with a voice that’s massive when singing but faint almost to the point of inaudibility the few times she decides to speak between numbers.

Calvi came off as shy, almost a bit nervous, taking the stage of New York’s Bowery Ballroom. The house was a little more than half-packed, but did include David Byrne, surreptitiously watching the show from the back of the floor, possibly checking out the artist at the suggestion of his friend and frequent collaborator, Brian Eno, who has been tirelessly championing Calvi in their native U.K.

Backed up by a drummer and a talented multi-instrumentalist, Calvi is a musician who can let her sound speak for her. Over the course of a single song, Calvi’s voice jumps through operatic hoops, pulling off ceiling-high crescendos before plummeting to a sultry whisper. Her guitar work and backing band here are a good deal looser than on her flecklessly-produced record, understandably; the more relaxed performance lends itself to the smoky nightclub feel that’s reflected not only at points in the music but in their stage presence, from Calvi’s blood-red lipstick, fashionable black suit and high-heel shoes to the stage’s cabaret lighting and billowing fog machine.

The show was over all too quickly, but when a performer can only draw from a 10-song debut album and a B-side Elvis cover, brevity should hardly be a surprise.

Brooklyn drum-and-guitar duo She Keeps Bees opened, presenting a fitting but very different type of music than the headliner, with a bluesy, more earthly sound. Singer Jessica Larrabee has an equally emotive voice to Calvi’s, showcasing it particularly well on two songs performed with only Andy LaPlant’s sparse drumbeat as backing to her vocals. With any luck these two will be playing to larger crowds after their new album lands in July.

Anna Calvi’s North American tour continues through June 7th. She Keeps Bees embark on a U.K. tour in late June.

(www.annacalvi.com)

(www.shekeepsbees.com)




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