So I saw Imogen Heap last Friday night: excellent show. Imogen is currently a solo artist, but was most famously known as the talent behind Frou Frou, who featured on the Garden State sound track. I didn’t know any of her other work, but a quick poke around iTunes convinced me it would be enjoyable nonetheless. She also had a song, “Goodnight & Go” from the OC soundtrack.
My friend Karen and I got to the House of Blues around 8:45, just before she went on stage. The only tickets available when we bought them were general admission, but there was an assigned seated section up front. However, it was about 1/3 empty, so we decided to try our luck sitting there. They were excellent seats. Aside from the seated section, the place was pretty full, actually, and the audience was definitely into her.
Imogen’s setup was a couple keyboards, a couple effects boxes, a couple of instruments I couldn’t identify, and an Apple Powerbook. The stage was sparse, and her equipment was decorated with dashes of silk flowers and lights. It had a delicate look of clutter to it. She came out and engaged the audience without pretense, mumbling to herself and us as she seemingly figured out how to operate her stuff on the fly. She opened with a great a capella number, utilizing a sampler/delay box to build a full sounding production in real time with just layers of her voice and hand clapping. After that she playfully introduced “the band” by demonstrating what each piece of equipment allowed her to do. Throughout the night she created an intimate, conversational feel.
Then she really dug into the performance, and made about an hour and a half of great music using a mixture of sequences and skilled live playing. The thing I liked best though was that despite the technology her songs were very immediate and human — the lyrics and her emotional singing really pulled it together. In fact, I think the lack of a band, and her isolation on stage served her well, bringing out just how personal the songs were. About halfway through the show, her opening act, cellist Zoe Keating, came back out for a couple songs to accompany.
So even though I only knew one of the songs she played (her Frou Frou hit “Let Go”), I was really caught up in the show throughout. Which is rare for me with an artist I don’t know. Karen seemed to feel the same way. This was apparently Imogen’s first Vegas show, but she’s coming back in November. I’m definitely looking forward to it. And in the meantime I’m going to get to know her stuff better. If she comes to your area (and if you imagine you might like her style of music) I recommend checking her out!