Live Review: Kimbra

When Kimbra’s first single 90’s music hit the Australian airwaves before her sophomore album The Golden Echo was released, I was admittedly a little disappointed in what I heard. Where was the butter smooth voice that had graced us with in first album Vows? Instead, an electronic infused, and quite frankly odd single was put before us. But these grievances were put to bed as I watched Kimbra deliver a captivating, soulful and powerful rendition of her latest music, which transcends 90’s Music from the very first song.

But before Kimbra could whip the crowd into a frenzy, the Metro was treated to her warm-up Banoffee. Through the hazy blue light, a tall lanky young woman stood in front of a simple, minimalistic set. Just like the Banoffee Pie after which she was presumably named, her sound is a delicate yet satiating blend of caramel tones and rich texture. Combining simple electronic undercurrents with gentle vocals, she cuts quite an interesting figure. Looking as though she was fresh out of school, her shy appearance on stage reflects what seemed a fragile character. Regardless, her songs echoed through the quickly filling Metro theatre, using sickeningly beautiful trills at the top of her notes. Exclaiming to the crowd how due to her lankiness, she has a deep ineptitude for dancing, the audience’s hearts were warming just in time for Kimbra. Finishing with her strongest song Let’s Go to the Beach, she would have won many new fans – including myself.

During a half an hour interval, scores more people filled the Metro to capacity for the main act. While Kimbra came to fame largely through her small role as Gotye’s partner in Somebody That I Used to Know, Kimbra is rarely outshined. New Zealand’s closest thing to Lady Gaga, Kimbra walked on stage and the crowd roared – perhaps out of a combination of excitement and a small amount of bemusement at her outfit. Decked out in UNI Hellbounds (as I’m told) which look like a particular dangerous pair of heels, and a shawl that looked as though it was cut clean from the backs of several hundred sheep dogs, even without her music, the entertainment had began.

Beginning with one of the strongest of her new album, Teen Heat seems a middle ground between her two albums. While the new synth undertones are obvious, she doesn’t lose her storytelling ability that made Vows so special. However, right on cue as the highly sexual nature of the song was uttered, her massive overcoat was stripped off. If there was astonishment at her first outfit, this forced the crowd into confused awe. As though she had cut a dress out of a large sheet of malleable aluminium, her inner zany was truly revealed. With different panels as though it were a large flower, they opened up to reveal gold elements underneath. As the transition took place, Carolina swooned over the crowd. However, the first screams of delight came as 90’s Music in all its oddity began to play. While I can’t claim to be a fan of the song, the chorus is appropriately punchy, enough to get the crows fully dancing for the first time. As each song after rolled by, I couldn’t help but wonder why the falsetto-heavy 90’s Music was chosen as her first single – especially as she openly declared it barely made the album itself, and was in part a ‘joke song’. But my slight annoyance at the injustice of it all soon passed as Settle Down began. Cleverly looping her voice five times over at the beginning to create an eerie backing for the remainder of the song, many of the fans who had come to see the Kimbra of the Vows era were appeased. It highlighted the difference in her sound. Her zany peculiar sound from her previous album was attained more so from manipulation of her voice, rather than accompanying instruments.

The surrounding band was impressive in itself though. A troupe of Americans picked up from her wide-ranging American tour – they completed her new sound, as seamlessly as her red lipstick completes her well-renowned fringe. As the concert continues, lesser-known songs dispersed a combination of older and newer songs. Goldmine best showcased her voice, while Nobody But You coincidentally came before a song that nobody actually knew.

While her older hits still gained more traction – such as Cameo Lover and Two Way Street the two best of the night were from her recent album. Her second single Miracle, a brilliantly pop laden anthem closed the show with a bang, and had everyone nodding their heads, or more accurately thrashing their heads as I can only describe one particularly keen fan.

Executing a clinical close of the show before returning to the shouting of ‘encore’, it was a stripped back version of As You Are that brought a slap of emotional intensity into the Metro. Throughout the show, while the music was exceptional, I remembered being more transfixed by her voice the previous time I saw her. But any doubts were dissolved two times over. Although she was clearly struggling with her voice – becoming hoarse when she attempted the heavy notes – it didn’t matter.

In her impressive set that easily lasted an hour and a half, Kimbra proved many things to me. Her new album should be admired and revered for its diversity – from songs that warranted her jumping around and screaming as if she were in a heavy metal band, to disarmingly subtle ballads that tried to sneak tears from the audience, it is a beautiful if somewhat inconsistent album. And though I needed no convincing from the moment she stepped on stage, it proved to me once again that Kimbra is an unusual and rare talent that deserves recognition – perhaps more than she is given.