LIVE: Anna Calvi @ The Roundhouse, 07.02.19

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.

Em Burfitt

LIVE: Beth Orton @ The Roundhouse, 10.02.18

Accompanied by just a guitarist and a bottle of water, as the lights dim on Beth Orton at Camden’s Roundhouse, emotions run high as I await the edgy beauty of her dulcet tones.

Commencing her intimate set with ‘Moon’, Orton instantly captivates the seated crowd with her alluring crystal clear vocals. Following on with another track from 2016’s Kidsticks, ‘Wave’ showcases her ability to write perfect indie-folk ballads.

Expressing her gratitude for us being there with an endearing, witty charm – “It’s like a big fuckin’ hug” – she continues her set oozing a sweeping emotive power, casting us under its spell in an instant. Treating us to an array of offerings, new and old, each song flows seamlessly into the next with smooth serenity, and it remains impossible not to lose yourself in the emotion-filled splendour of this prolific artist.

With personal highlights including the soaring heartfelt grace of Trailer Park‘s ‘She Cries Your Name’ and the sparkling bliss of Comfort In Strangers’ ‘Shopping Trolley’, I remain as completely spellbound by Orton’s seemingly effortless allure and immaculate melodies as the first time I heard her enchanting creations as an emotion-filled teen.

Interspersed between classics such as ‘Central Reservation’ and ‘Stolen Car’, Orton continues to charm the crowd by thanking everyone involved in this special ‘In The Round’ performance, including the woman who did her (very pretty) hair.

Returning to the stage for an encore of Kidsticks’ ‘Dawnstar’ and closing the set with another personal favourite ‘I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine’, Beth Orton has proved that, after over twenty years of making music, she’s still got it. She has left me utterly captivated by her truly exquisite, heartfelt creations; and I can’t help but feel privileged to have been a part of this extremely special evening of music.

Mari Lane