Live review: Kimbra, Michael Cassidy at Oran Mor, 31/8/12

It’s still going to be a little while before people know Kimbra as anything other than “that girl from the Gotye song” in the UK.


The people in attendance seem more curious than die hard, but they are a respectful bunch, willing to be swayed by whatever the young Kiwi can deliver.

It’s a bit of a homecoming gig for support Michael Cassidy, this is the last stop of the tour for the Scot, after being granted a few days off work thanks to his friend in the audience who covered his shifts for him.

Cassidy’s solo acoustic act is a pleasant one, while not exactly in keeping with Kimbra’s funk-pop style, his serene and impressive guitar playing, along with his soaring vocals, are well suited to Oran Mor’s intimate setting.

With a few Scottish nods here in there about going to the Co-op and the union (and throwing up) there’s a real feeling of him being one of your mates; it makes his music all the more relatable and human to the growing audience for alternative folk.

His upcoming gigs include support slots for Frightened Rabbit and Rachel Sermanni – keep your ears open.

The changeover between acts shows a shift in atmosphere; suddenly the PA is playing obscure funk songs with an emphasis on off-kilter rhythms.

Kimbra may create pop music, but if what you define as pop music is what you hear in the charts, this is quite an eye-opening show.

Almost no song from Kimbra’s set sounds like its album counterpart. Opener ‘Limbo’ has its intro twisted and extended, building to a crescendo before Kimbra appears to layer her vocals over the top of the percussion-driven track.

‘Good Intent’ is the perfect pop song; a danceable bassline, soulful vocal delivery and a catchy chorus.

‘Plain Gold Ring’ allows Kimbra to take centre stage, with its minimal accompaniment allowing her stunningly powerful voice to guide the track to its hypnotic conclusion.

Regardless of the show and the ticket you used to gain entry saying “Kimbra”, she never steals the spotlight and makes no attempt to hide that her band do a stunning job at performing complex and unique music.

Her guitarist solos, her keyboardist improvises and her drummer just about destroys his kit on more than one occasion.

“Kimbra” may be the name of the act you’re seeing, but this is no solo show.

To avoid the use of backing tracks as much as possible, vocal loops are used to make the experience feel as live and raw as can be.

It makes the whole affair very visceral even when plenty is happening at one time.

One moment you will be headbanging to a particularly heavy extended jam; the next, you’ll be swinging your hips to a reworking of the stellar ‘Settle Down.’

This has the potential to be mainstream and critically acclaimed, but vogue right now means pop music must sound as if David Guetta has his hands all over it, and this does not sound remotely related to that.

Instead, Kimbra’s funky and rhythm based soulful pop will remain a hidden gem for the time being on these shores.

Get in on it – it’s the best secret around.

Words: Scott Wilson


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