Imogen Heap, Back Ted-N-Ted, Tim Exile
November 17, 2009
Better than: a night at home with your diary.
many long-time fans of Imogen Heap
will praise the deep emotional
quality of her work, her quirky honesty is what may strike you
initially when seeing this marvel of a woman perform live.
was immediately evident during the opening song of her set last night at the Granada Theater: Heap felt
obliged to re-do the track's initial verse to a religiously hushed
audience after not being satisfied with the first go-round.
And she did
it with a coy grin across her face as if she knew that her night was to
be filled with tiny nuances.
Continuing the mood set by openers Back Ted N-Ted
and Tim Exile
, Heap treated the capacity Granada crowd to an organic
evening of electronic-inspired music. (We're careful to use the term
"electronic-inspired" here because, while the means of production are
digital in their output, each of the night's performers put a charming
spin that emitted a natural feel despite the lack of traditional
instrumentation. If you thought that the purveyors of electronica
couldn't wear their heart on their sleeve against a digital backdrop,
maybe you should have been at this show.)
Heap was the one wild, animate piece of an intricate
stage setup that had as it centerpiece a giant tree reminiscent of the
pop-up books of our youth. Skittering between a MIDI keyboard/sampler
station, her famed clear grand piano and various comfort spots on
stage, Heap was able to stay on top of it all by way of her wireless
microphone headset. Meanwhile, her hands alternately tinkered with instrumentation and fluttered about in playful opposition to her
hauntingly poignant vocals.
What must be foregrounded here is the duality of
Imogen Heap's stage presence: During the songs, she was the queen of her
domain, arresting the mostly silent crowd with the precision of her
voice and executing each arrangement nearly flawlessly--save that hiccup
in the set's first verse.
But when the music was off, Heap presented a
wholly different persona altogether. Due to a variety of unexpected
technical glitches that charmingly interrupted the show, she was
transformed from empowered songstress to giddy and slightly flustered
schoolgirl. Heap took it all in stride, though, entertaining the crowd to
audible laughter with a personality that can be described as nothing
less than delightful.
These glimpses into her humanity--which also
included much muffled talking to self, plenty of chit-chat with the
crowd, and the declaration "I need something... I need a man!"--were a
welcome change from too many performers who seem to see the stage as a
barrier between them and their audience. And while these moments lent
an air of comfort to the room, it was the lofty nature of her music
that ruled the evening. Rather than being distracting, Heap's
heavily-processed sound acted more like the voltage that pumped the
weary flesh back to vigorous life.
Much of the night was spent showing off her latest release Ellipse,
which is her most wide-reaching work to date. And while the crowd
seemed satisfied with this choice, it seemed that the few cuts that she
played from 2005's Speak For Yourself elicited the biggest
response; "Hide And Seek" (as expected) and "Headlock" were the
audience-pleasers from that album. But that's not to say that her most
recent effort is lacking in any way. No, it just seemed that the earlier
work was simply more familiar to the concert-goers. Highlights from her
new work included a chilling "2-1" and the extremely catchy "Swoon."
What a treat for the audience as well that Heap is
so fond of crowd participation. The night included a couple
sing-alongs, executed flawlessly thanks to the mastery of the
performer's orchestration. She even brought up a local cellist during
two tracks--the Polyphonic Spree
's Buffi Jacobs accompanied on "Aha!"
and "Canvas" after winning a contest that Heap hosted on live
interactive video streaming web site Log.TV the night before.
The evening closed with Heap whispering a breathy "bye bye bye bye" to bring Speak For Yourself's
"The Moment I Said It" to an end, before getting up from her piano and
tossing a giddy "see you later" to an enamored Granada Theater and
leaving the stage.
Yes Imogen, we will see you later.
Bias: Once again, the Granada's sound system was spot-on, playing nice
with the haunting precision of Heap's vocals. Forgive me for a beating
this horse to death, but it was her flippant on-stage attitude between
songs juxtaposed with those vocals that most blew me away. It was truly
impressive to watch someone flip that switch over and over again.
Heap announced a special tie to the
city of Dallas, dedicating her final song to local-bred surrealist
artist Ryan Obermeyer
, who has created art for her after asking if
she'd ever consider using fan art for her professional purposes.
By the Way: An openly conversational Heap was very
interactive with audience members at times, even going so far as to
reply to shouted requests coming from the throng. In her response to
one patron, she gave hope for those of you not lucky enough to get into
this sold out show: "No, I won't play that tonight. But I'll be back in
April, so maybe then."
1. First Train Home [Ellipse]
2. Wait It Out [Ellipse]
3. Between the Sheets [Ellipse]
4. Headlock [Speak for Yourself]
5. Bad Body Double [Ellipse]
6. Speeding Cars [Speak For Yourself - Bonus Track]
7. Little Bird [Ellipse]
8. Half Life [Ellipse]
9. Aha! [Ellipse]*
10. Canvas [Ellipse]*
11. The Walk [Speak For Yourself]
12. Swoon [Ellipse]
13. 2-1 [Ellipse]
14. Tidal [Ellipse]
15. Hide and Seek [Speak For Yourself]
16. Just For Now [Speak For Yourself]
17. The Moment I Said It [Speak For Yourself]
* = songs with Buffi Jacobs.