To the uninitiated, the diminutive Anna Calvi wouldn’t appear to be able to generate the powerful vocals she performs. When she did speak to the Vicar St crowd in her softly spoken tone such was the difference, you would have been forgiven if you doubted it was really the same person. Calvi has an operatic quality to her voice which provides her songs with a dramatic, darkly romantic quality.
Dressed all in black, with the stage lights centred firmly on her, Calvi opened her set with a sweeping Suzanne& I, which wasted little time in setting out the mood for the evening. She continues the sense of drama with her voice brewing a storm over the crashing waves of Eliza. After such a whirlwind start, Sing To Me brought a slow burning air of longing before returning to more uptempo songs such a First We Kiss and I’ll Be Your Man. Sing To Me also shows that her voice is capable of being more subtle and versatile rather than going for the venue filling vocals she is known for. There is little break between songs as Calvi and her band move effortlessly through the set. Never one afraid to throw in a cover, Calvi performs a menacing version of Bruce Springsteen’s Fire which is full of tension and expectant danger. The set ends strongly with the combination of fan favourite Desire and Love Won’t Be Leaving. The best of the night was kept to the encore, when a spine tingling version of Frankie Laine’s Jezebel swept the audience along with Calvi’s trademark mix of falsetto and baritone.
The set list was firmly split between her two albums and for the most part Anna Calvi cherry picked the best tracks for the live show. The one notable exception is the outstanding Blackout which is missing. It could easily have replaced Love of My Life which sagged in comparison.
Calvi is a virtuoso guitarist and she is clearly more comfortable shredding her guitar than standing as a vocal performer in front of a crowd. Such a dominating vocal and unquestionable ability as a guitarist would seem the perfect recipe for creating a magnetic stage presence, but at present Calvi falls just short of that and doesn’t yet have the charisma to catapult her into the major leagues. But that didn’t detract from what was a very enjoyable show, where she certainly enhanced her growing reputation.
Anna Calvi Photo Gallery
Photos: Kieran Frost