The Kleiner and I just saw Imogen Heap play at the historical Sixth and I synagogue on Monday evening immediately upon returning from their long hiatus playing on and around Long Island for Thanksgiving.
Aside from the nightmarish traffic (in the future, will only take the Pennsylvania Amish Country adventure route to New York), the trip was fantastic and included a visit to the Angelica Kitchen (a delicious East Village vegan restaurant), Bryant Park and its Christmas Market (oh, the beautiful ice rink and double oh, for the modernized European market complete with chocolate of the Israeli Max Brenner chocolate shop served by 'the bald man' [or one of the owners] himself, lots of pizza and the Sweet Lilly spa. We also saw 'An Education' which may or may not be reviewed later by the Kleiner.
First of all, concerts at Sixth and I are great, as we have discovered. The space is gorgeous - there is a beautiful sephardi painted dome and mezzanine and main temple seating. Everyone piles into the synagogue benches and those who want to get really close to the artist press themselves against the 'bima.' Imogen Heap herself, is a magical fairy princess of electronic music. She started the evening by personally introducing her openers (and members of her 'band). Each time she came out, her hair became wilder and wilder until it was one big frizz mess piled on her head and secured with a few different bows. She wore a short satin skirt - almost like a tutu and white ballet flats.
I absolutely love her music and her joint project Frou Frou, so I was extremely excited for this show and even more excited that it was at Sixth and I. It is amazing to see how she puts together the music live. Her set included numerous computers, synthesizers, microphones and toys that she uses to generate the sounds that get sequenced into her music. Some of the insturments truly were just her voice make a few chirps or heavy breathing. Her openers, who also comprised most of her 'band' also do the same thing, bringing even more computers and mics to the stage. Truly amazing.
The set was heavy on her newest album, Ellipse and inlcuded a few much loved favorites such as 'Just for Now' and 'Hide and Seek' from Speak for Yourself. Other songs played were 'Bad Body Double' which was a lot better live than on the album - the upbeat bits include almost hip hoppishly strong beats which generate great energy, an audience favorite, Swoon, Last Train Home, Aha! (which almost had hints of Klezmer) and Litte Bird. During Aha!, she brought up a local cellist who competed via her website to add the cello live. The last encore,the heart breaking - 'The Moment I Said It,' was chilling, near to the point of tears.
Overall, the show was fantastic, but, one aspect was confusing. She seemed to play many slow songs, despite the fact that her discography includes so many fantastic upbeat songs that fill a space so well. I can imagine they are extremely difficult to build up the sounds for now that I can see the complicated rig needed to generate the richer songs, but, the pay-off for the audience is worth it. On the other hand, most of the lyrics to her songs are not only sad, but emotionally jarring, bringing you with her on emotional highs of falling in love and the lowest lows watching yourself lose your spouse, or the way 'clothes feel like second hand throwaways' when your ex falls in love with someone new' or the pain and confusion of watching your parents divorce. Perhaps a live show that only includes the upbeat songs would be a dishonest representation of the artist....
I would 100% see Imogen Heap again, but hope the next time will be at the Black Cat or another venue where the audience can dance ;)