Review: Anna Calvi live at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

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REPORTER Andrew Trendell went to Rescue Rooms in Nottingham to review Anna Calvi.

AN ALMIGHTY tension hangs in the air as Queen of Drama Anna Calvi holds the audience in the palm of her hand. All of the melodrama and the electric atmosphere carry a real sense of occasion – this is Calvi’s victory lap.

The last time I saw her in Nottingham was at a very cramped and sweaty gig at the Bodega Social. She was still a rising star back then. She’d been championed by the BBC Sound of 2011 shortlist and the legendary Brian Eno has just hailed her as “the best thing since Patti Smith.”

Since then, her debut self-titled album has garnered universal critical acclaim, a Mercury Prize nomination and has gradually won the hearts of just about anyone who has heard it – from Nick Cave to the Arctic Monkeys.

Tonight, clad in black, Calvi justifies the hype – and then some.

Proving herself a true guitar virtuoso, Calvi channels the spirit of Jeff Buckley in the Morricone-esque opener Rider To The Sea. Difting seamlessly into spine-tingling rendition of No More Words, her passion and presence are stunning – so much so that you could hear a pin drop, not to mention the jaws of all present.

She really comes to life as she howls her way through the pounding breakthrough single Desire and when crooning through the epic Suzanne and I, it seems the only thing bigger than her lungs is her imagination.

In contrast to her earth-shiftingly huge voice and the vast and vivid sonic landscapes she creates, between songs Calvi is charmingly demure and clearly humbled by the crowd’s rapturous ovation, but that’s something she’s going to have to get used to.

Her talent is too great to be contained in these four walls, and her continuing ascent to glory and superstardom has never been more apparent. Next time she graces us with her presence, I’ll daresay it will be in the far less modest setting of Rock City next door, and then arenas and stadiums thereafter.

Victory is hers. Tonight Rescue Rooms, tomorrow the world.

By Andrew Trendell