Anna Calvi hit the Roundhouse like a tropical storm, full of force and fury. She didn’t engage the audience, she overwhelmed it. Her powerful, operatic voice drifted toward anger and madness, then returned to calm us.
This was a gig that you could only dream of. Think Queen or Rolling Stones before they hit the big time. She can shift from rhythms to offbeat haunting guitar riffs floating us out onto an ethereal plane. We are off-balance, confused and wanting more.
Her lyrics challenge us to think about gender and roles while her formidable guitar playing send our minds into an electric trance. That night, she was totally the Hunter — her gaze, wide-eyed like a crazed preacher scanning the audience for her prey.
It was a sell-out headline show when she came to Camden on 7th February. It’s a gig I’ll remember for years to come.
How can you describe a night like this? She’s a blistering guitarist for a start. Calvi’s riffs lifted the crowd to another dimension.
She was wearing a bold red PVC biker jacket with matching lipstick and strode down the narrow runway that jetted out from the centre of the Roundhouse main stage.
Anna got up close and personal with the fans. She’s not one to keep her distance from the boundaries of the stage or be flanked with bodyguards. She dropped down to her knees and the spotlight flashed off the face of her guitar, setting the stunned fans surrounding her into an ethereal glow. If they weren’t converted to adoration before, they were now.
Last night at the Roundhouse! Fuck!
It seems the feeling was mutual, as Anna tweeted post-gig: “Last night at the Roundhouse! Fuck! You were such an amazing audience. Your collective roar gave me all the fire and bravery to give everything of myself in this show. I’ll never forget this moment.”
Her performance was an electrifying experience for the senses with dark, rich sounds and a flawless band behind her (Alex Thomas on drums, Mally Harpaz on percussion and keyboards). Her powerful voice whispers and screams her raw emotions and thought-provoking lyrics. An angry Kate Bush comes to mind.
“As A Man” took the audience to another place altogether. It was is if they were transported to a 007 film, packed full of action, drama and suspense. The lighting was excellent, adding to the punchy feel of the song, and the smoke enveloping our rock star giving her an added mystique. She is pushing boundaries with this track and paving the way for female rock musicians to come. She’s unique, brave and daring. Mind. Officially. Blown.
“Swimming Pool” was beautiful, sexy and otherworldly, not unlike Calvi herself. Her voice takes you to another level, with its bold and almost operatic quality.
Her first album was only released in 2011 – she’s been taking on festivals, topping the charts, composing for TV series. She has just agreed to write for the next season of Peaky Blinders.
Amazing that eight years ago this London area native was playing at the Barfly (now the Camden Assembly). Anna Calvi has been on the wild ride since and so should be able to keep it going.
When you missed this show, you missed one of the best to hit Camden. Makes you wonder what new artists are playing in the Camden area tonight (go find out here)
Anna Calvi clips to check out
- Some great photos of the performance from Burak Cingi here.
- Killer studio visit video to NPR in 2012 where she plays “River To The Sea”, “Surrender”, “Jezebel”
- “As A Man” official video from the Hunter album
- Foxy Lady her way – moodier with tight guitar solo
Anna Calvi Roundhouse Feb 7, 2019 Playlist
- “Indies Or Paradise”
- “As A Man”
- “Wish” (check out Andrew Petro’s youtube bootleg video of this guitar solo here. Vid is rough, but it conveys the energy.)
- “Swimming Pool”
- “Suzanne & I”
- “I’ll Be Your Man”
- “Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy”
- “Rider To The Sea”
- “Ghost Rider (Suicide Cover)”