It’s shame that we’ll probably never have the joy of seeing Anna Calvi play in a venue such as this again, for undoubtedly it’ll be the bigger, more opulent theatres that she’ll be filling in the future. The Workman’s Club slightly decrepit mouldings, cornices and shadow-filled corners are the perfect bijou accompaniment for the mini-opera about to ensue.
Any doubts about the credentials of Ms Calvi are quickly dispensed. Coming on stage she inspires a hush of anticipation, before, sans preamble, she launches into ‘Riders To The Sea’. It’s pretty apparent that yes, she can play, and how, each tremulous twang of a note is like a stalker following you home. By ‘No More Words’ it’s equally apparent she can sing. It shouldn’t, of course, come as a surprise that an artist can both play and instrument and hold a note, sometimes simultaneously, but in this world of lip synching and auto tuning and prepackaged, shiny chested gombeens it’s a thrill to see such a talent in its raw state.
Neither does she need to resort to histrionics to keep our attention, hardly moving but to rotate he hand around the strings of her Telecaster, (which looks utterly massive on her), in that weird, almost intimate style of hers. The drama is all in her voice, and guitar. Backed by the excellent band whose judgment and sense of timing are impeccable, she owns the room.
In the future there will be bigger venues, and her talent deserves to be seen by many, many people, but there will be the feeling that venues such as this, small and dark, are where you should really be watching her. Ideally in 1942 in Paris, surrounded by spies and generals and choking on the smoke of a thousand Gaulouises, and without some behemoth standing right in front of you watching the gig via his mobile phone. This show needs a corpse. He’ll do.
Photos: Alessio Michelini.
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