Anna Calvi: live review, All Points East

Review by Molly Tie

Almost every other review of All Points East festival that I have read so far will differ from this review in two major ways 1) all anyone seems to want to talk about is the sound issues that plagued the set of headliners The Strokes but I’m not gonna even mention it here (oops, I just did…..) and 2) Anna Calvi has not got much of a look in as the reviews concentrate on the 3 major headliners- the aforementioned Strokes, Jack White’s dirgy post-Stripes outfit The Raconteurs and so-cool-I-thought-they-were-from-Scandanavia Interpol. This review focuses purely on Calvi’s set which was the highlight of the day for me.

Calvi was on the North Stage at the tail end of the afternoon, a modest crowd at first growing to a much more sizeable audience as the riffs of her impressive back catalogue drifted throughout Victoria Park. The whole set was a bit of a masterclass in how to create an incredible and moving atmosphere without elaborate theatrics- just Calvi, her keyboardist-come-additional-instrumentalist and a drummer. Three people on stage creating an eclectic and intricate sound that showcased the best that Calvi can do with her limitless creativity and talent.

Calvi is like a slightly more accessible PJ Harvey (no disrespect at all to Harvey- I love her) able to oscillate between the rather abstract and the good ol’ rocking. Her passion and connection for music is demonstrated by her very energetic and powerful performance and her vocals are an absolute revelation live. There’s elements of many different genres and icons within her set- the set opener puts me in mind of a hazy and psychedelic Doors circa songs like The End; there’s an element of Hendrix (a clear influence on Calvi) in the way she plays her guitar like its an extension of her body and there’s a touch of the poetic Patti Smith in there as well.

The crowd were desperate for Suzanne and I and Calvi dutifully delivered halfway through the set; Wish was the centrepiece of the afternoon and marked the most passionately performed song and the rousing Alpha was a personal highlight of mine.

There was something effortlessly cool and understated about Calvi’s performance- no recycled patter, diving into the crowd or cringy gimmicks- the music was the focus of this set and it was certainly more than capable of holding its own.

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