I think I can sum up Imogen’s performance with the use of a simple infographic:
Mind-blowing. I could leave it at that, but I won’t.
The Lakewood Theater was originally a movie theater built in 1938, and has now become a multipurpose entertainment space. It’s furnished in art deco style, and much of it is in its original condition. There was ample seating (which was a nice change from standing), and the theater’s retro, “from-another-time” feel seemed fitting for the artists about to perform that night.
Imogen first came out to introduce Zoe Keating, with whom she’s toured three times now. Zoe is a cellist—or should I say “layered cellist”—because what Zoe does with her cello is pretty amazing. It would be fair to say she actually plays two instruments: cello and sampler. By hand percussion, tapping the bow, plucking, sliding, and generally experimenting with the sounds her cello could make, she sampled sounds live and then looped and manipulated the samples on the fly. It was very beautiful.
After a short break following Zoe’s performance, Imogen took the stage. And by “took the stage” I mean she owned it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone command attention and own an audience so completely. There was no trace of jitters, shyness or that distanced “cool rock star” vibe you’ve undoubtedly felt from the rockstars du jour. She came onstage with a number of items including an oversized flower and a stuffed toucan (the toucan would repeat back anything you said to it, an ability Imogen shared with us on more than one occasion during the show), and just talked for a while. The items were souvenirs from various truck stops she’d “visited.” After placing them around the stage, she introduced us to her “band,” which cheekily consisted of her keyboards, keytar, sampler, etc. She is a peppy, unafraid and very personable individual, and it’s no wonder why her fans love her so much.
The opening song was “Just For Now” sung a capella over backing vocals which she sampled and looped live. I was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to live up to the extraordinarily layered and rich textures of the recorded material, but this and other songs which were delivered in a stripped-down style were absolutely mind-blowing. Even “Clear The Area”—which I regret is not one of my favorite songs—became a whole new, glorious animal when delivered with this alternate, raw treatment. Zoe Keating joined Imogen for “Goodnight and Go” and the amazing “Speeding Cars.” Immi even dipped into older material, performing the enormously crowd-pleasing “Let Go” from her days with Frou Frou, and a beautiful rendition of “Come Here Boy” from her first album.
All in all, it was clearly a mind-blowing evening. I’m so glad the show was moved from the Gypsy Tea Room. There’s no way it would have been enjoyable in that tiny space. This show was absolutely sold out, with people walking up and down the line outside with signs asking for tickets. But you still have a chance to catch this show if you want. I suggest that you do.
View my photos of the show on Flickr.
Completely non-sequential and potentially incomplete setlist:
- Just For Now
- Goodnight and Go
- Come Here Boy
- Have You Got It In You?
- Speeding Cars
- Loose Ends
- Let Go
- The Walk
- Clear The Area
- Hide and Seek
- Daylight Robbery
- The Moment I Said It