red lights


Pendulum continues to swing in
songstress' piano driven direction

Imogen Heap
Park West
Chicago, IL
May 25, 2006
Imogen Heap Imogen Heap

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

Seconds into her show at Park West- one of Chicago's most sonically and visually pleasing nightclubs- Imogen Heap announced that she rarely visits the same city twice on a tour, but the windy city is an exception. After all, the former member of Frou Frou's last performance at Schubas was so tiny, she felt it necessary to give the town a second try, this time allowing somewhere around a thousand faithful to experience her live spectacle. However, the much more spacious location in comparison was still not enough to house the underground hero's growing legion of fans, who may not be a staple of the radio or one of the most frequently interviewed artists these days, but continues to gain momentum with her explosive concert offerings.

Spontaneity seems to be a key component of Heap's personality, as evidenced from her casual entrance with the aforementioned announcement and decision to sing "Just For Now" acapella.Imogen Heap The tune is normally dipped in suave dance beats, but this time rang out with merely the vocals and a unique reverberation effect through a barrage of electronic devices. Like Bjork or the Eurythmics, a slew of synthesizers, keyboards, laptops and unidentifiable boxes are a major component of her palette, allowing for a mostly one woman show (with occasional accompaniment by cello playing opening act Zoe Keating) that kept fans guessing what trick she'd pull out of her hat next.

Across the next hour, the singer/songwriter would switch to a grand piano, strap a keytar around her neck to bounce a bit or drop all instruments in favor of background tracks mixed and mashed up from the original album versions. On the quieter numbers (such as the angelic "Hide and Seek" and the crystalline "Candlelight") she recalled the esteemed likes of Tori Amos or Kate Bush, though seemed to stand in a class of her own on "Loose Ends." That track served as an unexpected climax given its relatively straight forward and sweetly sung introduction that unfolded with schizophrenic loops steeped in unpredictable but delightful chaos. "Goodnight and Go" wasn't as peculiar but did dip with sassy disco beats backed again by Heap's charming vocals.

Through nods to her latest solo CD Speak For Yourself were ample, those towards her previous group were few, though she did oblige that era with "Let Go." The track first found fame on the Garden State soundtrack and was delivered poignantly as Heap pounded out the serene chords with a more traditional piano arrangement. Such a compelling rendition made it tricky to pick which of these styles is the definitive direction she should continue towards, suggesting this hodgepodge of sorts suits her quite well. Granted, the genre bouncing and sometimes bizarre beats might not be for everyone, but if her ticket sales continue at this rate, she'll likely be playing a much larger theatre next time through with an even larger production. Cheers to those who five years down the road can say they saw Heap way back when, which as long as long as she stays on track, may just be the tip of her career timeline.

Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap
Zoe Keating
Zoe Keating
Imogen Heap

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