Imogen Heap

posted 20 Feb 2010, 09:04 by Harry Cooke   [ updated 20 Feb 2010, 15:42 ]
Leeds Metropolitan
9th February 2010

by Amy Greene

Going to a gig at Leeds Met? Take a dozen door wedges*. More on that later.

When I heard I was going to see Imogen Heap I knew only her ubiquitous 'Hide and Seek' which at one time seemed to be on every American TV show going (The O.C., One Tree Hill, Grey's Anatomy) so wasn't sure what to expect from this gig. I duly listened to a little more on spotify  to try and get a flavour for her music and felt that there was no way a live performance could live up to these gorgeous but heavily produced tracks. How wrong I was.

Not only does her vocal sound even more heart rending live, she is an incredibly diverse performer, using an effects pedal to loop and layer up tracks with instinctive ease, there was a real sense of the 'liveness' of this event, something which I feel can be lacking from electronic music. She played a massive perspex piano, an organ, a range of interesting percussion instruments which were hung on an enormous tree and also had a DJ on hand to play tracks and beatbox. Heap has a quiet yet engaging persona on stage, and seemed utterly at home in her performance. She was happy to explain how the gadgets worked, that her wrists were miked up enabling her to go and play any instrument, for example, and how she felt about the recent sampling of 'Hide and Seek' (philosophical yet pragmatic about the profits, if you were wondering.)

I preferred the tracks with more bass which you could dance to but the quieter tracks were brilliant for showcasing Heap's voice which is something else entirely and needs to be heard live to be believed. Her recorded tracks hardly do it justice but now I've seen her I appreciate she is a very talented musician and songwriter as well as a vocalist. 

The visual spectacle of the gig was as impressive as the aural one and made use of projection, beautiful lighting and shadows from the aforementioned tree and this definitely added to the experience. Heap's stage set has obviously been carefully and expertly thought out, although I pity the soul who has to get it into a truck afterwards and put it up somewhere else the next day.

The only irritation of the evening was the venue, as the doors at the back of the venue were banging very loudly throughout the gig. This would be OK if you were seeing a louder band but was really annoying for everyone listening to someone sing a cappella or play the piano. So thanks very much for having me as your guest Leeds Met, but sadly I felt that your venue didn't really do justice to this performance, although your staff were very lovely without exception, especially the security man by the lighting desk who seemed really worried about the sound of the doors.

So go and see Imogen Heap live if you get the opportunity even if, like me, you don't know too much about her. She's an exceptionally talented performer who manages to be engaging and down to earth at the same time.   

*disclaimer, this may contravene fire regulations, so don't.