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Beat HQ's picture
Beat HQ Joined: 9th December 2010
Last seen: 5th June 2012

Kimbra at The Corner Hotel

Beat HQ's picture
Beat HQ Joined: 9th December 2010
Last seen: 5th June 2012
Northeast Party House and Yeo did a great job of warming up the dancefloor, in particular the latter’s ability to transform the one-man DIY Prince act of his solo recordings to a full band, complete with scintillating keytar skills. But nothing could quite prepare for the finely honed soul-come-funk-pop assault of Kimbra and her whipcrack-tight band.

From the moment she launches onstage, bedecked in frilly black cocktail and forearms decorated in the same black faux-tattoos of her artwork, it’s clear she’s on form. Let alone that voice, warping and flexing in tone, pushing and pulling in dynamics and, of course, belting the expression out of every syllable. It’s a wonder how such a powerful force is emitting from such a slight frame. But while Ms. Johnson has always been in impressive command of her voice, she’s grown in equal confidence when it comes to command of the stage. Her presence is electric, whether swooping into another tambourine frenzy or making her loop pedal acrobatics look like child’s play, it’s impossible to ignore her brilliant band but they are truly heard and not seen, such is her visual magnetism.


Traces of the innocent, charming twenty-year-old can be seen in flashes of stage banter, and her genuine exuberance for tonight’s sell-out audience, but for the remainder of the show that mawkish naivety is nowhere to be seen. It’s replaced by a performer who was born for the stage.


Good Intent and Limbo are attacked with all the fervour and gusto you’d expect of such a well-trained live unit, but the true marker of their confidence, and Kimbra’s, is in frontloading her most well-known track Settle Down. Rather than save it for a chorus-baiting encore, or to round out the backend of the set, here it is front and centre. As glorious a piece as ever, but not one for which she feels the need to gravitate her setlist around anymore.


The highlights are plentiful: from the sassy take on Nina Simone’s Plain Gold Ring to Break’s irresistible titular hip-hop groove, and the shimmering Two Way Street remains a thing of undiminished beauty. Meanwhile, Marigold positively pummels with its rhythmic exuberance and then exploding into a pitch-perfect recreation of the theme to Captain EO, better known as Michael Jackson’s Another Part Of MeCameo Lover, the single for which tonight is for, rounds out proceedings with its punchy mix of brassy energy, Motown singalong and in its coda, a vocal loop whose doo-wop heritage harkens back to The Chordettes’ Mr. Sandman.


At a time when it seems the only alternatives for female performers who don’t want to be chart starlets means being hemmed into acting like airy girls who sing like children (with optional acoustic guitar); Kimbra smashes those boundaries. Even, or perhaps especially, when she’s tackling other people’s material. The encore opens with a cover of fellow ex-pats 1QA’s Somebody Please, before offering a brand new tune about selflessness appropriately called The Samaritan. It's a strong finish but when it seems curtains, there’s still room for a very cheeky end to the night with a few rounds of Daft Punk’s Robot Rock. You don’t get that with Jessica Mauboy.


Speaking of de-butts (sorry…), Kimbra’s can’t come soon enough, and if it’s anything like tonight, it will be a fun mix of the pure joy of performing great songs with an effortless showcase of talent. We all know Kimbra is good, but sometimes performances like this reminds just how good she can be. She has absolutely, certifiably killed it. The Corner and its heaving swamp of appreciative fans, awestruck newcomers and the weary bones of the danced will agree: they’ve just been slain.

 

 

 

Loved: It all. Hated: No music to buy at the merch stand, in fact, nothing at all. Drank: A frothy pint of sweet, iced apple cider