Kimbra Lee Johnson or Kimbra as she is known as performed to a sold out Union Chapel at what was her début headline gig in the UK. I purchased a ticket for this event on the basis that she featured on the Gotye single Somebody That I Used To Know. I then started listening to her solo material and fell in love with songs such like Come Into My Head, Two Way Street and Cameo Lover. I chose to arrive outside the Chapel around 3pm. Early I know but when it is all unreserved seating you cant really take any chances. So fast forward to the time the doors opened and I went straight to the front pew centre left. The style of Kimbra’s music is Jazz Pop a style which worked wonders in this setting.
There was plenty of applause when Johnson made her entrance onto the stage wearing a pink dress just a few minutes after 9pm. The set began with Limbo which was a tune which was faultlessly delivered and showed off her top notch vocals to perfection. Limbo was a song which makes you want to dance. Plenty of energy oozed from it. It was then straight onto Posse. In this song Johnson sings how she doesn’t want to be in a posse. Johnson puts everything into this and the vocals were rather strong. It’s lyrics were both perfect and infectious. It was then onto Good Intent. This was the 3rd single she released. This song was a combination of Jazz and Pop which worked wonders. Good Intent is a song which Kimbra superbly sang and which was belted out. “Hello everybody. My name is Kimbra and this is my fantastic band behind me. This is our first time headlining a show in London. I’m so excited to be here. Some of you might know this is our last date on our European tour. We’ve been going all round Europe for the last month and I honestly couldn’t think of a better place to finish the tour than here in the beautiful Union Chapel” Johnson said before experimenting with beats for Old Flame. I found this tune to be rather sleek and gentle. I was actually reminded of Regina Spektor.
“This next song is a track called Plain Gold Ring and I first heard the song sung by Nina Simone. So I decided to put it on my album. This is my own version of it” Kimbra then said before tackling the haunting Plain Gold Ring. This song had a slow tempo to it and was mellowing at the same time. Johnson completely made this song her own. “I want you to do something for me” she then said urging everyone to start clapping along in unison. Something In The Way You Are was a mellowing pop song which had some beautiful lyrics. “I want to take this moment to say a huge thank you to the amazing support we had tonight” Kimbra said referring to Cody ChesnuTT. It was then onto my favourite song from Vows and this being Two Way Street. I adore this tune and it sounded spectacular live. Firstly it is contagious and secondly it is very soothing. “I want you to stand up” Johnson said ordering everyone up from their seats for a brand new song and this being the uplifting Marigold. This was a real treat and it was sounded brilliant at the same time. This new song went down well with the audience. “ No, no, no keep standing up. So recently I had the great honour of working with an artist called Mark Foster from a band called Foster and the People. This is a song that we wrote with a Canadian DJ called A Track” she mentioned to the audience before diving into the energetic Warrior. This stunning song was delivered perfectly plus it also was rather synthy. Samaritan was then next and this being yet another new Kimbra composition which was rather promising. I look forward to hearing the studio version of this tune. “How you guys doing up there? Are you glad you’re standing up? Well we’re going to play a song now called Settle Down” Johnson then said before singing the said number which served as her first single from Vows. Settle Down was again Jazz Pop and was smoky as well. “I never imagined this would be my first headline gig in London. I thought it would be in a pub playing to like 4 people” Kimbra then told the audience before Cameo Lover. This tune was pacey and cheerful. “Thank you London. I really hope that we’ll be back soon” Johnson said before signing off with the latest single and this being Come Into My Head. Whist the video paints her out to be unhinged, I would say quirky is more like it. Come Into My Head is infectious, you just want to sing and dance along to it. Kimbra then left the stage only to return for the final song of the magical evening and this being Withdraw.
Plain Gold Ring
Something In The Way You Are
Two Way Street
Come Into My Head
OVERALL: This was the first time I had witnessed New Zealander Kimbra Lee Johnson perform live and I was left impressed. The Union Chapel is a lovely venue but in a way it felt like it was the wrong one. The plus point was the acoustics of the Chapel suited her Jazz Pop down to a T. When I say I feel as it was the wrong choice of venue was the fact that it was all seated. Every Kimbra tune you just want to go crazy to. Fair enough she got everyone standing on there feet 8 songs in.
Despite the way I felt I rather enjoyed this evening and I count the days until I next see her perform live. Every single song that was performed was sheer class.