Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Imogen Heap – Emperor’s Palace, 29 January 2011: Mind-blowing, mesmerising and truly unforgettable

A ball of energy, known widely as Imogen Heap, pops onto the stage, announcing the opening act: Yoav. Out comes Yoav, with his guitar and recording machine and begins what – from start to finish – is an amazingly innovative, mind-blowing and mesmerising set from him and Heap.
Yoav signing autographs
Yoav, born in Israel and raised in South Africa, has caused a furore across the international musical scene over the past few years, achieving milestones such as appearing on the Jools Holland show. Quietly unassuming, he effortlessly records his backing track on the spot by tapping a beat on his guitar and occasionally adding his voice. He then begins strumming over it and finally adds his soulful voice. Funky beats you can’t help tapping your toes to and insightful lyrics characterise Yoav’s songs. He is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Following a raucous standing ovation, Heap returns to the stage, clearly psyched to start her set. A musical fairyland scene ensues – she skips around on stage under her white shining dead tree surrounded by sparkling fairy lights playing her see-through piano, then picking up bells, then lightly brushing a gong, all the while dancing happily and singing out in her clear, distinct voice. You feel as if you are privy to the creation of music, the show is so flowing and dynamic. Various bizarre instruments and household items, such as wine glasses, a saw and even the audience themselves, are recorded right before each song and used to create the backing tracks. One backing track consisted of her family silently standing around a crackling fire at her England home (pre-recorded of course). These unique sounds are effortlessly mingled to form magical melodies right in front of your eyes. It is truly mesmerising, as is Heap’s voice.
Heap is extremely comfortable on stage, and talkative, chatting openly to the audience as if old friends, making for an intimate gig which leaves the audience feeling like they know her a bit better and were privy to a private once-off show. She tells the stories behind some of the songs and randomly murmurs things like “I love my dead tree” in-between songs. She really did love her dead tree.
The beloved dead tree
Between Sheets she described as a song about her lying on a bed here and a man lying there and they had just done something rather amazing. She noted that she wrote it to encourage more in-the-moment moments like that in her life and more men in her bed. While Aha! details a dinner with a friend which involved her cooking a wheat-less, meatless – the list goes on – meal per his request. Following dinner she helped herself to some chocolate chip cookies he could not have as per his strict eating regime, however it did not take him long to sneak a biscuit out of the tin. She apparently found this very hypocritical, noting she could have just cooked steak and sent him on his way. She added that the chorus is actually about a serial killer, which her visitor wasn’t to her knowledge. Little antidotes and quirky insights like these make her exceptionally likeable and accessible – you can’t help but fall in love with her.

It is such a treat to go to a show where both acts, the opening and the main, are evidently excited to be performing and are clearly passionate about their music and enjoy every second of their shows. They both love what they are doing and are deeply proud of their music, putting their all into every single song. And neither has an ounce of pretension or ego. The effort which goes into creating as well as performing each song leaves one deeply grateful and creates an everlasting connection between these singers and their spectators. Truly unforgettable.

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