Last night, Monday January 29th, Kimbra
played at Brooklyn Steel here in New York City, wearing a black and white striped tunic with a skirt that parted like wings as she flew around the stage, bopping and laughing and singing in what turned out to be a truly ethereal show.
We got warmed up with the opener KING, an alternative R&B group that appeared glossily in all-matching white outfits and crooned to us with a series of groovy and soulful tunes that seemed to melt into each other one after the other, like a funky jam band from an alternate universe. It felt like the perfect thing to get people psyched for Kimbra's deeper, more amped-up sound.
I was immediately impressed by Kimbra's stage presence. She has a fairy-like appearance, with long hair that she shakes around on stage and a voice that gushes to fill up the whole room. She started playing her way through the setlist, one song melding into the next, a lot of remixes and funky versions of her popular hits. She even mentions this at one point, saying, "Hope you don't mind the weird versions of songs!" and it's safe to say the crowd definitely didn't mind.
In anticipation of her new album Primal Heart
coming out on April 20th, she played some songs we'd never heard before. A few notable ones were "The Good War" and "Black Sky" which you can look out for in the spring, beautiful and interesting tracks that echoed, bopped and swirled around the stage. Sometimes light enough to dance to, sometimes heavy enough to warrant dark stage lighting and Kimbra in the middle with her arms out and hair long, looking melancholy. Her band, including contributing pop artist Arc Iris
who rocked it on the synth, was hidden behind two white, thinly sheeted boxes that gave the appearance that Kimbra was performing in front of rolling fog.
In the middle of what felt like a performance from rock 'n' roll Middle Earth, she brought us back to reality to discuss some of the Grammys drama and fallout that has been happening since yesterday. "I wish the Grammys president could be here tonight so he could see all these women stepping up!" she said, referring to herself and the KING, a group of three African American women who absolutely rocked it. Oh hell yes, Kimbra.
The rest of the performance continued, Kimbra dancing with her deeply soulful voice, taking it back to some of her older songs like "Settle Down" and "As You Are". At one point she picked up a guitar to perform a song off her new album that was a lot more acoustic, just her and the strings. "I need all the encouragement I can get," she told the crowd nervously as she started to play, but she didn't need it. The intimate song was probably my favorite of the whole set.
She rounded it off with a performance of "Top of the World". The lights flashed and the crowd went totally wild as she rocked it in her black and white outfit and black platform heels, a crazy purple and blue light show in the background and the slightly creepy synth and bass. It was a little like seeing a show from an alien world, but if this is what other dimensions rock out to on their typical Monday night, I am so there.