Live Review: Anna Calvi and Twin Shadow – Oxford Art Factory (06.02.2012)

Twin Shadow look comfortable on stage together from the start of their set at Oxford Art Factory, opening for one Anna Calvi in their joint Laneway Festival sideshow. Every instrument sounds clear, all members on stage are painfully cool and fashionable-looking and the crowd are clearly enjoying themselves.

Singer George Lewis Jnr’s vocals aren’t loud enough in the first three songs, at times drowned by the bass and drums. However, this is fixed during ‘When We’re Dancing’ and the rest of the set continues without any problems. The stage goes dark between songs but Lewis Jnr calls for “some light in this mother fucker!” to tell us how much he’s enjoyed touring Australia for Laneway Festival.

‘Track Slow’ is anything but and causes groups of people to start dance-offs in front of the stage. The energy continues through to the set’s standout ‘At My Heels’; Lewis Jnr’s happiness is contagious and makes it impossible to stand still. Twin Shadow finish their set with the beautiful ‘Tether Beat’ and leave us without an encore.

Anna Calviand her band arrive on stage and play instrumental album intro ‘Rider to the Sea’. Her passion is evident as soon as she strums her guitar and the sounds she can get from it are overwhelming.

As the set progresses, I can’t help but wonder why her microphone isn’t turned up loud enough. To have had an incredible sounding set from Twin Shadow earlier and then be disappointed by Calvi’s vocals isn’t what I expected. This was no fault of Calvi’s, her passion and effort on stage could be seen at all times but her voice couldn’t be heard clearly enough from under her guitar and the drums.

To her credit, she was professional enough to not mention this between songs, rather just gesture shyly for her microphone to be turned up. Since focusing on her voice wasn’t possible in this set, our attention was pointed toward her guitar playing. The sexy intro to ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ and the extended solo in ‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’ were so good they almost made my jaw hit the ground. It’s impossible to watch someone play with so much passion and skill and not be swept away within it.

Calvi isn’t much for stage banter, giving us only a few quiet “thank you”s and barely a bow when she walks off at the end of the set. New song ‘Jezebel’ is all we get for an encore and when it’s over, she seems to sigh with relief. The problems with her vocals meant there was less crowd-engagement than there should have been and unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one disappointed by that.

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Justine McNamara

I'm an Australian living in New York. I work in marketing but I write about music, New York, and my own personal experiences.

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