The buzz around the catwalk is already palpable. You could cut the atmosphere with a butter knife and anyone who’s seen Anna Calvi live before will know that she can and she will. She’ll forego the butterknife for bright red lipstick, jet black hair, and the bruised Telecaster that’s been by her side since long before she ever found herself screaming into the historic Roundhouse.
Do you think the designers knew that what started as an engine house would end up having the kind of acoustics that could make any audiophile’s expensive headphones melt off their ears? Doubt it, but that’s what happened on 7th February 2019, when Anna Calvi—alongside her band, Mally Harpaz and Alex Thomas—brought Hunter to Camden Town.
Opening the show were two LGBTQ artists-cum-DJs, Austra and Victoria Sin, spinning tracks that both enlivened us queer indie kids and the more seasoned (cis-oned) fans alike. As well as being palpable, it was equal parts emotional. As the stage went dark and screams echoed around the ‘house, there was a strange but enlivened twist in the air: Calvi was home.
Playing songs from Hunter and her self-titled debut, there wasn’t a single soul in the crowd left uncaptivated. Even at the bar, people were being coughed at by bar tenders when they’d forgotten to order; too busy watching art unleashed on the stage in front of us.
The synergy between Calvi, Harpaz, and Thomas lead to the kind of artistic improv Marina Abramović could bathe in – and while I say these things as a fan of both, if you don’t feel nauseous at at least one point of a great gig, your Stendhal moment is still there waiting.
Anna Calvi is an artist to remember. She is, in my humble (gobby) opinion, the greatest living guitarist we have. And she left her mark during every second of the Roundhouse show; from beginning to end. Some cried, some came, and most of us would willingly live through that concert again and again.