February 6th | Trinity
Photos: Luke Macpherson
Finding the right words to describe Anna Meredith’s live show is a difficult task. Her latest album, Fibs sits in an unusual crossing point between classical, rock and electronic. This is reflected in her band line-up at the Trinity Centre, which consists of an electric guitarist, celloist, tuba player and drummer – not to mention Meredith herself, who noodles around with a number of different instruments. It’s a performance that’s exciting, eclectic and ridiculously fun.
Opening for Meredith is Grace Lightman, whose stage presence quickly sweeps up the attention of the night’s early comers. Dressed head to toe in silver, while her band don lab coats, she plays a selection of songs from her new album, Silver Eater. Mixing chamber pop and electronica, her music sits comfortably alongside contemporaries like Angel Olsen and Weyes Blood.
When Anna Meredith’s band kicks off their set, though, the tone is much different. If Lightman’s show radiated smooth and effortless coolness, Meredith’s more resembles organised chaos: a pan that’s just on the edge of boiling over or a Jenga tower that’s nervously teetering from side to side. It’s there in the set opener, ‘Sawbones’ which snowballs as it moves along, the band threatening to push the song a little bit further every time it seems as though it’s about to end. Meredith dances between instruments, cycling through her keyboard, clarinet, xylophone and a huge drum which she thwacks joyously.
After the first song, she thanks the audience. “There will be a lot of thanking tonight,” she says, “interspersed with subliminal messaging about buying our merch.” Quips like this are peppered throughout the night and really add to the atmosphere; while Meredith and the other musicians are all incredibly skilled, the mood of the room often resembles a group of friends messing around on their instruments and having fun.
The band play through almost all of their new album, Fibs, which flourishes on the Trinity Centre stage. The new songs also give each of the band members their own chance to shine. Drummer Sam Wilson takes on vocal duties for the peppy ‘Killjoy’, while ‘Bump’ builds around Tom Kelly’s excellent tuba playing. In one of the night’s finest quiet moments, Maddie Cutter delivers a stunning cello solo over a bed of bubbling electronics during ‘moonmoons’. The rest of the band then join in on the song’s climax, their wild, ramshackle sense of energy ensuring a big finish.
After a dizzying performance of ‘Paramour’, the band take a bow before agreeing to do one more song… Or, in fact, a medley. Meredith introduces it as a medley of songs considered “high art”, and it doesn’t disappoint; the band members take it in turns to sing karaoke-style on a number of pop classics and not-so-much classics. Meredith and Cutter bust out some synchronised dance moves while they belt out ABBA’s ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’, while Wilson delivers a compelling performance of Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’. They also chuck in O-Zone’s ‘Dragonstea Din Tei’ – the ‘Numa Numa Song’ – a brilliantly bizarre move.
As tongue-in-cheek as this finale is, it does a great job of showcasing what Meredith and her band are so good at: breaking down musical barriers and forcing you to put your biases to the side. Who says an electric guitar, a tuba and a synthesiser can’t all get along?
See the video for ‘Paramour’ here: