You know you’re getting old when all you can think about when walking to a (free) concert is “Damn, I’m going to be so tired tomorrow,” but nothing was going to hold me back from checking out tonight’s Kimbra concert. Taking place at the famed Commodore Ballroom, Kimbra was kicking off her North American tour for the re-release of Vows, her critically acclaimed album that came out last May. Dropping officially on October 2, the digital release will feature exclusive remixes on popular songs with producers like Damian Taylor (Bjork, The Killers) and M-Phazes (Talib Kweli).
Best known for a certain duet, I was curious to see if Kimbra could carry off a show on her own. I already knew that she wasn’t one to underestimate, but being creative in the studio and on stage are two very different things. Happily, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The night started off kinda weird with the lights brightening to reveal a glittery, psychedelic backdrop of brightly colored flowers and birds. Kimbra’s band was similarly dressed for the tiki torch vibe with matching cheesy print shirts, but the oddest part was that Kimbra’s intro was the theme from Godfather! WTF. Luckily, that surrealness didn’t last long and Kimbra bounced onto stage and straight into song.
She’s probably sick to death of the Katy Perry comparisons, but the girl really looked like she was leaning towards Perry’s kooky style with a corset top and accompanying petticoat that literally screamed BIG PARTY DRESS. Seriously, that thing was like a floppy tutu crossed with the spotted pattern of a toadstool straight out of the LSD version of Alice in Wonderland. That ridiculous skirt was matched with a pair of sparkly pom-pom shoulder pads and topped with Kimbra’s bouncy permed hair. Sensing a love of volume, much? Halfway through the night, Kimbra ditched the skirt to reveal a spangly feather skirt that bounced with every move. Somehow, all these horrible wrongs came together to make a right that matched the kooky, spontaneous aesthetic Kimbra crafts with her music.
If I had to describe the night, which included a mix of old favourites and new, it would have to be with the words ad-lib and drama. This girl’s got some crazy pipes. From seductive growling, to doing her best Whitney, Kimbra’s voice swoops around like a rollercoaster. Forget singing along with the songs, even if you know the lyrics – she’s just going to blast you away with her voice’s power or ad-lib it all anyways with some spontaneous harmonies and numerous scat sessions. It is this rolling deep power and crazy vocal whimsy that makes Kimbra just so much fun to watch; her performance ISN’T at all like the album and she dances like a girl on fire.
My favourite moments of the night though came when Kimbra settled down into songs that showcased her lyrical voice. In songs like Old Flame and Two Way Street, the odd vocal inflections and jazzy embellishments heard elsewhere in places like Settle Down are minimized and you just hear the pureness of her voice. Kimbra’s other strength comes out during rollicking renditions of Cameo Love and Good Intent, which show off her jazz-pop roots. The biggest surprise though came with additions to the set where Kimbra was having a downright rock moment. I’m used to hearing Kimbra’s jazz, RnB and pop sides, but rock? Ending the night with a hard-hitting rock version of Come into my head, I seriously had to wonder at the versatility of this girl so in love with music.
The Vows tour is scheduled to play across Canada and the US till the end of October. If she’s coming to your town, I definitely recommend checking her out.