Friday, September 28, 2007

Laura Imbruglia at The Borderline

Sydney’s Laura Imbruglia played in Central London this week. I’ve seen her a few times before, but this was the first time I’d ever seen her performing solo. Here’s the scoop:At London’s famous Borderline, Laura Imbruglia stood on a stage half the world away from home and performed tracks lifted from her excellent, eponymous debut album. Opening the evening with Surly, she instantly demonstrated her distinctive style. Reading like pages ripped straight from the diary of a slightly tangential protagonist, Imbruglia’s stories are personal, witty and peculiar yet never in the slightest contrived, and skip from being genuinely funny to touchingly emotive in a heartbeat. It is an appealing dichotomy, and not an easy formula to achieve, yet her songs manage to be droll without seeming flippant, and to be heartfelt without appearing over-sentimental. Similarly, her musical style also offers interesting juxtapositions. Classic pop sensibilities, influenced by a love of Teenage Fanclub and The Carpenters, combine with a distinctive indie edge reminiscent of Adam Green, the lyrical quirkiness of Regina Spektor or Kate Nash and the doe-eyed innocence of Daniel Johnston.

On this rainy Wednesday in the heart of London, Imbruglia was effortlessly cool yet entirely unpretentious as she chatted affably to the crowd between songs with a confidence that suggested standing alone on a stage is the most natural and comfortable thing in the world for her to do. Indeed, though playing with a band brings a certain clout to her tunes and turns them into feisty little garage numbers, to see them performed with just an acoustic guitar was a wonderfully intimate experience. In fact, the songs gained plenty from being stripped down. Lettuce and Anarchists is a track that one would expect not to work when forced away from its punky format (after all, that’s the point of it), but, pleasingly and slightly surprisingly, it found a whole new dimension, and worked perfectly as an acoustic number. Equally, throughout the set Imbruglia’s vocal was allowed to breathe without its nuances battling for prominence with the clash of drums and the cacophony of electric and bass guitar. In short, this thirty-minute show proved that Laura Imbruglia absolutely blossoms as a solo artist.The ace in her pack is certainly It’s Getting Worse, which is the kind of unabashed paean to love that the scenester bands with angular hair would be too scared to write. “You hide magnets in your arms and whirlpools in your eyes/The sky is grey all day, then I see you and it turns blue,” she sang with a kookiness that once again steered her firmly in the direction of The Moldy Peaches at their most honest and tender.

Talking of kookiness, the fanciful My Dream of a Magical Washing Machine prompted a trip into delicious irreverence. Any song which boasts the lyrics: “Instead of swishy noises, I could listen to the Pet Shop Boys,” is more than okay by this reviewer. The triumphant set was ended with Tear Ducts and impressive new song Wouldn’t Be Surprised, before the Australian songwriter made way for two acts whose painfully affected performances only served to prove what an unassuming and genuine talent we had just witnessed in Miss Imbruglia.

She may be a long way from home, but there’s a wit, charm and eccentricity about Laura Imbruglia that may well see England fall in love with her. After all, this is an artist whose music could just as easily have emerged from London’s indie scene or New York’s anti-folk scene as from sunny Australia.


Anonymous said...

Just checked out her myspace. Sounds good....

bobbysix said...

Oh, and if this review has made you want to catch one of her shows, then there are a few more in London next week.

Check for details.

Anonymous said...

I saw her Camden show and loved it. Totally agree with this review.

Anonymous said...

Dull chubby drone She looked boring and sounded boring too. Thankfully beer made up for the absence of talent. Too many Australians invading our shores. What do they know about music.

bobbysix said...

I'm not sure exactly what to make of the previous comment. I have a sneaky feeling it is someone being mischievous with tongue firmly placed in cheek.

But if it is a serious comment, then I have to say I disagree entirely. Obviously all are entitled to their opinion, but I think it was a great show.

As for "Too many Australians invading our shores"? A ridiculous claim. Ridiculous and xenophobic.

Anonymous said...

this interview has been linked from her myspace she liked it that much. i agree with everything, her album is awesome and shes obviously a clever cookie. havnt seen her live though, no all ages gigs in Aus :(