May 24, 2010

Imogen Heap and Geese at the Riviera 5/23/10

Listen to Imogen's CD (Ellipse) while reading.
(How awesome is this?! I might become an embedding addict...)

I had plans, for weeks, with one of my BMF's (Best Mommy Friends) to see Imogen. We acted too late last time she was in town and the concert sold out. She is the only friend I know that actually knew who Imogen was. We, both being in the over 45 crowd, must apparently have (at least occasional) taste in music more readily acknowledged by the 30 something and younger crowd. But we digress and regress. The first point of business was dinner before the show. I have recently rediscovered Mia Francesca on Clark Street (near School St.). This is the original Mia and is one of my old stomping grounds from the beginning of time. I can say it is still an amazing restaurant. At 6 pm on a Sunday night, it is PACKED! The food was outstanding (Halibut Saltimbocca) and a blood orange martini to die for. We decided to eat here because the show was at the Vic and parking is plentiful (metered). Yes, I know the entry says that the show was at the Riviera... but let me continue. So after dinner we walked to the Vic but noticed upon arrival that a Johnny Depp festival (Alice in Wonderland and Edward Scissorhands) was playing for Brew and View night at the Vic. There was not a band or tour bus in sight. What happened to Imogen, was she touring with the Johnny film fest? Oops, checked the tickets and alas, the show was at the Riviera. So, back to the car, we make our way uptown to the Riv with the unexpected fortune of rock star parking identified just around the block (the stars were aligned!).

Needless to say, we missed the opening band "Geese". Although I cannot personally comment on the strengths nor weaknesses of the duo band (Emma Smith and Vincent Sipperell) I did conduct a bit of research and was able to determine the following: violins, electonica, and ambient sounds are involved and they are from the UK. It would likely be helpful to be under the influence of substances not in liquid form to truly appreciate the vibe of Geese. Andrew Bird fans may appreciate the sound of this duo also. I was not able to identify any whistling however. Check out "Geese remix James Yorkston" on their my space page for more info. Sorry, this is the best I can do under the circumstances of our later arrival.

Now for the review of the show! Imogen Heap is a 33 year old, Grammy award winning singer-songwriter hailing from the UK. Her Grammy was in 2006 for "Best Engineered Non-Classical Album". She began writing songs at age 13 and is a classically trained musician. She plays piano, cello, clarinet, drums and two percussion ideophone instruments (the array mbira and the Hang). She writes, produces, and mixes all of her music. She also taught herself to sequence, engineer, sample, and produce all of her own music using Atari computers. A bit of an overachiever or a control freak? Her music is described as singer-songwriter pop that has elements of rock, dance, and electronica. I first saw her at the Park West Theater several years ago when she performed as a one-woman band manipulating electronic sounds via Apple Powerbook, playing piano and other instruments. Before going solo, she worked with an electronic pop band, Acacia and is known for her work as part of the Frou Frou duo. She became more commercially known due to her songs "Goodnight and Go", "Hide and Seek", and "Speeding Cars" being featured on the O.C. television show.

We decided to watch the show initially, on this sweltering May night, seated in the nose-bleed section of the Riviera. All we wanted was water to cool down. Yes, heat does rise (science is my specialty after all). The Riviera is architecturally a phenomenal building but is impossible to cool. Of course we moved back down to the floor to accomplish the videotaping of the attached video and to start breathing again. The sound experience at the Riv is not the greatest. The acoustics in such a high ceilinged building are impossible to control fully.

Imogen performed many songs from her most recent release "Ellipse" and had wonderful choreographed visual effects. During her song "Little Bird", birds were flying and soaring on the screen and were a back drop for the tree that was center stage.
She also improvised a song that was available for download after the show. She is donating the proceeds from each of these downloads to charities that are specific to each city she was visiting. Her chosen Chicago charity was "ceasefirechicago". The organization formed as the Chicago project or violence prevention to help control shootings in Chicago. The song may not have been memorable but Imogen's creativity and benevolence are noteworthy.

Imogen did a great version of "Hide and Seek" towards the end of the show incorporating an audience sing-along:

The show was great, the venue not my favorite, but a true urban "legend". Additionally, my BMF (who divorced 4 years ago) has a new love in her life. I was given the heads up, on the way to the show, that I was likely to be stranded by 9:45 so she could be available for a 10 pm booty call. The stranding was fine with me, the constant texting and time checking was another issue. Good to know though that new love and booty calls can happen at 25, 50, and ages in-between and after. Good for her, she deserves the best. As for me, per usual I stayed until the bitter end, hopped a cab (love the new Scion cabs!) and made my way home, safe and sound. The night overall was fantastic: great company, food, and music but alas I must take away one guitar for heat stroke, sound, and texting issues (just joking BMF!). I give the show and venue a 4 out of 5 guitar rating.

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