For the first stop on her national tour, rising New Zealand singer/songwriter Kimbra played the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. We’ll say ‘rising’ because despite her marvellous duet with Gotye on “Somebody That I Used To Know” reaching number one in the U.S., Kimbra didn’t quite make it to the main arena of the Entertainment Centre, but instead was located on the smaller side stage. This nevertheless cavernous setting was far from full to capacity, showing that Kimbra’s potential would seem to have outstripped her current level of fame.
She was supported by Sam Lawrence (more on him later) and Daniel Merriweather. The latter, somewhat of an R’n’B artist, was doing his best to impersonate a one-man boy-band, executing to perfection all the standard arm movements and questionable lyrics (‘giving myself to you is like giving myself to a chainsaw’). He also threw out a slightly creepy cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer To God,” with its key line of “I wanna fuck you like an animal.” Though there is something unsettling about hearing someone croon those lyrics with acoustic guitar, the song choice did get a positive reaction from some members of the audience.
The lighting during the Merriweather’s set was stark – a general dusk-like setting coupled with a single spotlight. Nothing could have reminded us better that we were there, standing in this great, big, unwelcoming room. However, fears that this would detract from the main act were completely unfounded, and in the most colourful way.
When the main act finally arrived (after some tentative chanting by the audience), the theatre was completely dimmed with colourful spotlights filling the now ready stage. The backing band arrived first, dressed as though rolled in a paintbox of faux-eighties shirts and vaguely tribal cloaks. Then Kimbra came bounding on-stage, clothed in a dress that was half-wedding dress, half-metallic cake with an overcoat that was probably stolen from Big Bird’s wardrobe. She looked stunning, as no-one else could have.
What followed was just over an hour of the finest stadium pop you will likely see. The clothes, the hair, the stage accoutrements – all of it was great. The thing is, though, while many artists would used the extra props to compensate for something, Kimbra had no need for any of it. From such a tiny woman (even in her usual heels), came the voice so powerful, so versatile, so sweet yet never cloying, so commanding yet never overwhelming, that all the rest of the show was just that. The rest.
She performed mainly tracks from her album Vows, including “Two Way Street”, “Old Flame”, “Settle Down”and “Withdraw” (which featured a beautiful display of silver confetti). As well as a few newbies such as “Warrior”, written with Mark Foster of Foster the People. Besides managing to make a rather fantastic costume change (now entwining herself in red roses), and still managing to take refreshing sips from her nearby cup of tea.
The last song of the night, “Come Into My Head”, was another new cut, showing a move away from pop influences and instead getting a few audience members’ head-banging. Only, of course it was not the last song, because no-one had failed to notice that “Cameo Lover” had thus far failed to make an appearance. When returning back on stage for the encore, she brought with her Sam Lawrence, with whom she performed the intense duet, “Wandering Limbs”. And then came the song that everyone was waiting for. One final, spectacular burst of confetti, and the night came to an end.
Here’s hoping that next time Kimbra comes round to Adelaide, she makes it to the arena stage of the Entertainment Centre – she is simply too good a performer to be anywhere else.
- Serrin Prior