Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gig review: Annie in Camden

Last time I saw Annie in concert, she was flailing about aimlessly behind a DJ while a largely indifferent St Etienne audience drank beer and talked amongst themselves. The Norwegian popster even walked off the stage a couple of times, such was the indifference of the crowd.

At the iTunes festival on Monday, there was evidence both of increased interest and that she'd stepped up as a performer - although she sometimes has the air of a head girl miming to her favourite Girls Aloud songs at the school concert.

The set began brilliantly, wrong-footing the audience with a grinding synth dirge (exactly the sort of thing that you'd expect to hear as Radiohead's warm-up tape) that transmogrified into skippy pop ditty Chewing Gum. Sadly, although the three-piece band was giving it their all Annie's wispy voice, awash in delay, never really managed to punch through.

Things got very odd with the appearance of What Do You Want (For Breakfast), an utterly baffling song which consists of Annie repeating the inquisitive title ad nauseam over a plonky techno beat.

Sadly, no-one shouted out "muesli" or "croissant" in response to her query.

After a couple of songs, however, things began to warm up. The deliciously dark stomp of I Want You To Take Me Home was the turning point, with the band settling into a groove and Annie striking a series of convincing rock chick poses with her mic.

Songs Remind Me Of You, the highlight of her forthcoming new album, was similarly the stand-out track of the live show - proving once and for all that it should have been the lead single, rather than the underwhelming I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me (in with a bullet at, er, number 54).

All in all, it was an uneven set and one which can't have won over many new fans. Which is a real shame because, while the hipster critics love her, the lack of airplay means the live arena is the one place she can connect with an audience.

[These beautiful photos are from Paul Jay's Flickr Stream]

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