First published on 24 May 2012. Updated on 24 May 2012.
Only hermits and Bieber fans could have escaped the name ‘Kimbra’ in the last year. The 22-year-old kooky songstress – aka that girl from the Gotye track which topped every chart everywhere – has, in 2011, had four singles in triple j’s Hottest 100, including ‘Cameo Lover’ and ‘Good Intent’, a platinum-selling album, an ARIA Award and US tours lined up to support Gotye and Foster the People. All that and still she had time for a little gig at the Enmore. But what a gig!
First up were Melburnians Sam Lawrence and Daniel Merriweather, who each gave it their simple, unadorned acoustic, lo-fi performances with heart-rendering vocals. Their efforts were futile as they played to an almost empty room, Merriweather rousing a few supporters with his Nine Inch Nails cover ‘Closer’ and the popular ‘Red’. But the growing crowd were hungry for Kimbra, hungry for a show. To an infectious ripple of anticipation, on came a Hawaiian-shirt-tribal-cape-wearing band of men, complete with a Jazzy Jeff-lookalike on the drums, and bam: it was showtime.
Transforming the pared-down tone with a blast of white light, big sounds and three large projection screens, Kimbra had landed – and she upped the ante. The intimate mood became a thrusting high-energy performance. The starlet was goofy and sweet, introducing herself as though we had no idea who she was. But at the same time she projected an untouchable magnetism. Every movement was big – jerking puppet-on-a-string dancing, her enormous lipstick-lined mouth. Every expression was part of the song.
Performing tracks from her album Vows, (and not a note from ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’), seeing Kimbra live was unexpectedly mesmerising. The delivery was intense and her voice was unfaltering. ‘Settle Down’ and ‘Cameo Lover’ were the favourites, and her recent hit ‘Warrior’ garnered a cry of delight – especially when she mentioned Mark Foster (of Foster the People), with whom she wrote the song.
Costume changes – from crotch-high metallic silver bubble dress to crotch-high red rose petal dress – only added to the theatre. Overall, it felt like a meatier, rock-electro take on pop music that suited her style, her music and the momentum.
The only trip-up came with a slightly awkward looping version of ‘Wandering Limbs’, a duet with Sam Lawrence, which she later seemed to apologise for. But even when she changed tempo for ‘Withdraw’, Kimbra proved that she is no show pony, just one very talented artist who, given a stage, likes to put on a damn good show.
Kimbra played the Enmore on Thu May 17.
Sign up to our monthly music newsletter