The following is a review of last night’s Kimbra show at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney. ‘Come Into My Head’ doesn’t feature on her debut, ‘Vows’ but typified, for me, one electric night of local brilliance. Shaking my head. That’s how I spent the majority of Kimbra Johnson’s headlining show at the Enmore Theatre. Surely, there was a fair bit of jiving, a good helping of grooving and a smidgen of fist-pumping but mostly, in the miniscule periods of downtime between songs, I always found myself shaking my head in disbelief. At 22 years old and with only a single LP to her name, Kimbra is not the live artist you expect. Having contributed to Miami Horror’s sensational ‘Illumination’, played the US late-night television circuit as Gotye-assistant and now gotten the call-up from Converse alongside A-Trak and Mark Foster for ‘Warrior’, you’d think she’d be a good live prospect. But nowhere near this good.
In confetti guns and lighting rigs and Gaga-esque costumes, three superbly utilised semi-transparent screens, a crack band and abundant quirky dance moves, the Kimbra stage show offers all the pomp and spectacle of a pop star set refined over years of touring. But more significantly, she meets and exceeds the impact of visuals and tricks with what is, at core, an unprecedented talent. Across high-octane thrillers like ‘Settle Down’, slow-burners like ‘Old Flame’ and jumpier numbers like ‘Cameo Lover’, Kimbra is flawless. Reaching out and contorting her hands, in time with every cymbal splash, every climb to the upper register, she is in control. As conductor, she keeps an effusive band and two back-up singers in check, organises her own mind-boggling vocal flourishes and manages to shimmy and tambourine her way into every element of every track. ‘Vows’ takes on ringtone quality after you’ve heard it reproduced so powerfully.
As with support Daniel Merriweather before her, Kimbra hit every note, effortlessly. But unlike Merriweather, Kimbra so obviously knows what she wants and goes after it, thrillingly, with every ounce of energy she possesses. If anything, the Enmore stage could barely contain such massive ambition so expertly realised. At times, as waves of bass and falsetto washed over the crowd, it seemed they weren’t quite sure what to do with the scene playing out in front of their eyes. A good starting point would be changing that pesky Wikipedia entry and claiming her as ours.
Kimbra – Come Into My Head