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Jeremy Allen , July 13th, 2012 11:06

Jeremy Allen finds Domino's Calvi as impressive as ever at Somerset House

The inclement weather shows no signs of abating, and while the sun shone briefly on Thursday morning it was merely lulling us into a false sense of security. Despite this, the turn out for Anna Calvi was more than respectable, even if the assembled were mostly obscured by umbrellas (further obscuring the star of the evening, who, it has been noted several times, is not pop’s tallest minstrel).

Stood in front of an eclipse generated on the screen behind her, Calvi comes out to deliver ‘Rider to the Sea’ - the customary introduction to her sets - dressed head-to-toe in gold lamé bullfighting regalia. It may be a point only musos will cherish, but her guitar playing has become yet more dexterous in the time she’s been away, while as a presence she appears to have grown in confidence during this sabbatical. The high note on ‘Rider’ and its resounding refrain - soon enveloped by dramatic silence and only broken by huge cheers - still has the power to induce goosebumps. As she breaks into ‘Suzanne and I’ it becomes apparent that the storm breaking overhead will only enhance the gothic opera unfolding before our eyes. So screw you the sky gods.

Now is downtime between albums, but this one-off appearance is a showcase for works in progress, as well as a reminder of how majestic last year’s debut was. It’s a chance too to tinker with some of those beloved numbers with ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ extended to include wails of pure voodoo. She thumps and throttles her axe throughout, and it becomes apparent that her relationship with the guitar has become even more loving and experimental.

Speaking of experimental, she and her two accomplices preview a magnificently odd new piece that on a first listen sounds like Morrissey yodelling over Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’. It’s an enchanting curio and hints that we might be taken to a stranger place still when she releases her second album. A sparse and sexy TV On The Radio cover,‘Wolf Like Me’, is thrown into the mix, as well as Elvis’ ‘Surrender’, before she returns to her own songs. ‘The Devil’ in the encore, dynamic and dramatic as ever, brings further anger from the heavens...

‘Rider To The Sea’
‘Suzanne & I’
‘Black Out’
‘I’ll Be Your Man’
‘First We Kiss’
‘New One’
‘Wolf Like Me’
‘Morning Light’
‘Love Won’t Be Leaving’
‘The Devil’