Kimbra @ The Rosemount Hotel
Saturday, July 21, 2018
New Zealand expat, now US resident, Kimbra moved her life to New York to take her music to the world. Following the release of her third studio album Primal Heart, Kimbra has finally returned to Australia for the first time since 2012, not forgetting the proposed 2014 co-headline tour with Janelle Monae that was cancelled last minute. It was a long wait but on Saturday Kimbra was finally here to play to a packed Rosemount Hotel.
Local IDM percussion duo Feels opened to to an already healthy gathering and intrigued the crowd with their use of live midi xylophone, SPD pad, acoustic tom drums and cymbals. The crowd embraced the performance as cheers rung out when the duo dropped into dance-able grooves from atmospheric verses, encouraging the crowd to come forward and dance to their chilled beats.
A huge saw wave and ambient lighting signalled that Kimbra was near, and her accompaniment in the form of guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Timon Martin and keyboardist Spencer Zahn took their places alongside the midi percussion controllers and triggering pads of Kimbra’s central control system. Late album track Version Of Me was an interesting choice of show opener, Kimbra walked on stage draped in white to the welcoming cheers of the audience. Although it is a beautiful and emotive song, the delicate track wasn’t a charging start to the set after such a build up.
Things starting kicking into gear with bonus Primal Heart album track Hi Def Distance Romance, and album opener The Good War. With no live drummer Kimbra commanded the beats, manipulated sounds and triggered samples from her station of various midi controllers and gadgets that she had on stage around her, but instead of spending the night restricted to their vicinity she wasn’t afraid to frequently break free and engage the audience in the front row, side and beyond, dancing around the stage, doing her best to engage everyone and invite them to be apart of the show.
After Black Sky, she took the time to address the crowd, cheerfully expressing, “This is the last show of the tour, I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve have been back, let’s make tonight something really special!” Her excitement and enthusiasm was truly evident from her beaming face, totally confident in her musical execution and and clearly loving every minute of her performance. At home on the stage, she emitted a presence and vocal power that confirmed we were in fact watching something truly special from a seasoned, consummate performer. Title track Human was a highlight as she sung “I’ve got a heart that’s primal!” again using effects to texture and layer her vocals in the outro fade out.
A heavily sampled version of Settle Down was a fresh take on her first official release and featured a mash of her and Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. “You know this one huh? Feel free to sing along.” She cheeked before slipping into a powerful take of single Everybody Knows where she really hit her stride performing the challenging vocal flawlessly.
Like They Do On The TV lightened the vibe of the room before Kimbra donned the gutiar for an intimate version of Past Love. Special mention must go to the lighting design and technician that made her performance even more majestic.
Vows single Two Way Street was beautifully reworked. Kimbra then invited everyone to dance to the four to the floor beat of Lightyears and the whole room was moving with her.
She introduced her band before kicking into the sensual Sweet Relief, utilising gadgets to masterfully manipulate her vocals through various effects and envelope filters.
It must be noted that just a day prior to the show she received a special mix of her Skrillex colab, Top Of The World with Snoop Dog rapping over the middle eight, she must have been especially pumped to perform this one. The tom beats started and she was off, switching between commanding the audience from the front of stage, back to utilising two Kaos pads beside her to bend and synthesise her voice, then double-fist pumping the air. It was a mind-blowing finale to the set.
Quickly returning for the encore, and visually chuffed, she performed solo for the haunting and enchanting album closer, Real Life, which was written entirely in her New York apartment using only her voice and vocal manipulators. She performed it the same way tonight, although clearing her throat away from the mic between phrases, she gave a perfect vocal performance which had the audience stunned in silence.
So much more than a singer/songwriter, Kimbra pushes the boundaries in every aspect of her show; sound, performance, fashion and lighting. The power and control she has over her voice plus the use of live vocal manipulation is really so impressive – there was so much going on I just wish I could have seen it one more time just so I could take in every aspect of the show to the fullest. A true artist.
Photos by Owen Gregory & Adrian Thomson