Anna Calvi [Live]


I have always been challenged in the punctuality department and I wish I could change. But the train is always late, my keys are always lost and the appropriate attire to wear never seems to reveal itself. So it is not really my fault.

As I power walked through the doors of The Music Hall of Williamsburg, looking reminiscent of an actual pig in blanket; shiny, warm and pink, I was shocked by the stillness of the room. The audience were like a church congregation, seemingly sedated by Calvi’s silky, sepulchral notes. I couldn’t see her though, as being late caused me to (and rightfully so) be right at the back.

I wish it were the done thing at live music events to arrange everyone in descending height order at the door and organise where they stand like a school class photo. The long tall gangly ones would go at the back and the shortest sitting cross-legged at the front. It would make live music in small venues a much more enjoyable experience for all, especially a gig like Calvi’s which seems to draw a most diverse type of crowd.

After weedling my way closer to the front I was right behind a tall, bearded man wearing what looked in the dark like a gnome’s hat. He kept shifting from one leg to the other, blocking my view when he shifted. So in order to see, I adapted to his strange shifting dance so when he would shift left, I would shift right. I am sure it looked to the naked eye much like a rehearsed little jazz dance, only missing the spirit fingers.

Anna Calvi’s music is often described as dark atmospheric pop, but watching her live, it sometimes felt like you were watching a somber musical. Calvi’s appearance is dramatic and you feel like you go through the mercurial emotions of the songs with her on a smooth ghost ride.

When Calvi began singing Blackout it was so spell- bounding and powerful, it even stopped my gnome-hatted dance partner from moving. A few other highlights were Eliza, Piece by Piece and in my opinion her best song, Desire.

Anna Calvi is a woman of very few words. She whispered a thank you after every song and that was about it. However, her voice is peculiarly different from her singing. It is timid, quiet and croaky compared to her strong singing notes, which are laced in emotion. It’s fairly bizarre to hear, like if Biggie Smalls spoke with a voice like Prince William.

Anna Calvi is one of Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite singers. To be honest, I was sceptical as to whether I would be in agreement with the opinions of a man who has indicated in the past that if it were legal, he would marry his cat. However, surprisingly we now have one thing in common (and it is certainly not being sexually attracted to members of the feline family).

Calvi ended her set with Jezebel a song made famous by Frankie Laine and later, Edith Piaf. The powerful heavy notes fell out of Calvi’s mouth into the audience like a large, dark velvet blanket, smothering everyone with her raw talent. A slightly pretentious way of describing it, right? It was an exhilarating way to end the show.

By Charlotte Louise Long