Sunday, April 21, 2013

Canadian Musicfest - Charlotte Church @ El Mocambo, Toronto (March 23, 2013)

Charlotte Church: photo by Michael Ligon
  Charlotte Church: photo by Michael Ligon

Charlotte Church (yes, that Charlotte Church) came to town last month for a show at El Mocambo during Canadian Music Week. The Welsh soprano who's mainly known as an angel-voiced classical singer whose prodigious talent was first introduced to the masses in the late 90's before she even hit her teens. She branched out into pop in the mid-2000's with her album Tissues and Issues and then came back in 2010 with a singer-songwriter pop album Back to Scratch but at that point, although she was off my radar for that whole period. When I saw her name on the Canadian Musicfest lineup I didn't even have the intention of including her in my CMF schedule but when I checked out the video of the live session [her song "Nerve"] she did for The Line of Best Fit, I was actually floored. She's yet again branched off into a different direction, still displaying her powerful yet nuanced vocals but at least as displayed from the Line of Best Fit session, she's embraced an edgier musical direction.

Having been a Live Nation show meant that my CMW media pass didn't allow me to take photos at the show since I'd not gotten approval through Live Nation. I found it a little surprising, that on name recognition alone and that the festival had been prominently promoting her as one of the festival's feature acts, the El Mocambo was at most a little more than half capacity for Charlotte's set. It took a bit of time to set up after the openers (Folly and The Hunter), but then the band took the stage, with Charlotte eventually strolling on. Her wardrobe, her dress and face paint that was on the theatrical side, reminded me a bit of Bat For Lashes or the wilder moments of Kate Bush which was almost a disappointment since I was hoping to see the down-to-earth look she had in The Line of Best Fit session. But the theatrical look that Charlotte had this night never became a distraction once she opened her mouth. As was quite apparent from her set, she hasn't totally abandoned her classical vocal stylings - her vocals were quite powerful when they needed to be [with Charlotte soothing her voice with honey between songs], but there was also more nuance as she added a gentler touch at times, and wasn't afraid to even add effects to her vocals like vocoder or use a loop pedal. Musically, it was a mix of organic and electronic, post-rock, pop and ethereal, with two drum kits, guitars and keyboards, augmented at times with electronic flourishes. Performing songs off the first two EP's (of a series of five E.P.s) entitled One and Two respectively and even introducing a new song to the audience [which she'd prompted the audience to feel free to slow dance to the saddest song in the world], the mature musical direction that Charlotte has taken this time around feels quite natural and intensely satisfying.

Photos: Charlotte Church @ El Mocambo, Toronto (March 23, 2013)
Facebook: Charlotte Church
Twitter: Charlotte Church
Video: Charlotte Church - "Nerve" (live session for The Line of Best Fit)
Video: Charlotte Church - "Nerve" (live session for Saturday Night Show)
Video: Charlotte Church - "Glitterbombed" (music video)
Video: Charlotte Church - "Glitterbombed" (Live Jonathan Ross Show)

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