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Blog // Sounds
April 20, 2011

Imogen Heap In Adelaide

Last night I had the chance to catch Imogen Heap in Concert here in Adelaide. It was a spur of the moment decision to check the local listings and book a ticket. It turned out to be a fantastic concert. She played to a rapturous audience in the comfortable environs of the Dunstan Playhouse. It […]

Last night I had the chance to catch Imogen Heap in Concert here in Adelaide. It was a spur of the moment decision to check the local listings and book a ticket. It turned out to be a fantastic concert. She played to a rapturous audience in the comfortable environs of the Dunstan Playhouse. It was a stark contrast to the Imogen Heap show I caught last year in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong she played at Grappa’s Cellar in Central. If we wanted to be kind, we could say the acoustics in Grappas are not well suited to Heap’s delicate and subtle music. The harsh reality is that Grappas is not well suited to any kind of music. It’s a horrible venue.

And, what made that concert worse was the audience. A number of people commented on how talkative the audience was. I wasn’t the only who moved repeatedly to get away from the talkers, who often had their backs to the stage! And then there were the hecklers.

To be fair Imogen Heap talks a lot during her shows. That’s part of her appeal. She is a story teller and she likes to give some context to her songs and how they came into being. Moreover, she is doing some technologically cutting edge things on stage, with looping, live sampling and MIDI. That she tries to explain a little of that brings the audience into the craft of her approach to music. Sadly, there were boorish sections of the crowd in Hong Kong who had no patience for that.

The crowd in Adelaide, by contrast was captivated. The applause after song was loud and long and during each number the silence was solid. This coupled with a acoustically warm space and good sound meant we could catch every nuance of Heap’s onstage sound (she was accompanied by a drummer/percussionist and cellist/synth bassist).

This stripped back three-piece band put more emphasis on Heap and her overall stage presence was really strong and focussed, despite a few technical hitches with her equipment. In a lot of ways, Heaps set up, is all about freedom (headpiece mic, contact mics on her wrists for sampling, in-ear monitors) but also about bringing studio tech to life on stage (sampling, looping, harmonising).

In keeping with Heap’s active use of social media, the audience had been asked before the show to participate in selecting the song-list for the night. Thankfully one of my favourite tunes, Bad Body Double made the cut. But, truth is all her best known songs got a run.

And, what stood out for me was the quality of the arrangements and the assurance of her stage presence. Imogen Heap is an artist at the top of her game, technically and emotionally and she is growing with each passing year. If you get the chance to see her live – take it.

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