[MUSIC: Live Review] Kimbra, Daniel Merriweather @ The Enmore Theatre, Thursday May 17
Kimbra, Daniel Merriweather
The Enmore Theatre
Thursday May 17
Shaking my head. That’s how I spent the majority of Kimbra Johnson’s headlining show at the Enmore Theatre. Sure there was a fair bit of jiving, a good helping of grooving and a smidgen of fist-pumping but mostly, in the miniscule periods of downtime between songs, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief. At 22 years old and with only a single LP to her name, Kimbra is not the live artist you’d expect. Having contributed to Miami Horror’s sensational ‘Illumination’, Gotye’d her way into the US late-night television circuit, and answered a call-up from Converse to collaborate with A-Trak and Mark Foster for ‘Warrior’, you’d think she’d be a good live prospect. But nowhere near this good.
In confetti guns and lighting rigs and Gaga-esque costumes, with three superbly utilised semi-transparent screens, a crack band, and quirky dance moves in abundance, the Kimbra stage show offers all the pomp and spectacle of a pop star set, refined through an excessive touring cycle. But more significantly, she meets and exceeds the impact of the visuals and tricks with what is, at its core, an unprecedented talent. Across high-octane thrillers like ‘Settle Down’, slow-burners like ‘Old Flame’, and jumpier numbers like ‘Cameo Lover’, Kimbra is flawless. Reaching out and contorting her hands, in time with every cymbal splash, every climb to the upper register: she is in control. As conductor, she keeps an effusive band and two back-up singers in check, organises her own mind-boggling vocal flourishes, and manages to shimmy and tambourine her way into every moment of every track. Vows takes on ringtone quality after you’ve heard it recreated so powerfully live.
As with support Daniel Merriweather before her, Kimbra hit every note effortlessly. But while Merriweather reproduced singles from his debut Love & War with ease, he never seemed to push outside his comfort zone – and didn’t win over many new fans tonight. Kimbra, on the other hand, was thrilling, challenging herself with every ounce of energy she possessed. The Enmore stage could barely contain such massive ambition so expertly realised; as waves of bass and falsetto washed over the crowd, it seemed they weren’t quite sure what to do with the scene that was playing out. A good starting point would be editing that pesky Wikipedia entry, and claiming her as ours…