Tonight, the packed Concorde2 plays host to Julia Holter and her band, on the last date of their second UK tour in support of her 2015 album ‘Have You In My Wilderness’.
The experimental pop album was adored by critics and fans alike, and seeing the complex yet hypnotic songs performed live, it’s easy to see why.
Holter’s songs are massive, intense displays of her inherent compositional wizardry, yet they lack any intimidating qualities – they are warm, passionate and in some places, a lot of fun. She bounces and chirps behind her synth piano.
The band open with a new song built around a hammering piano riff, and after a few false starts, head into ‘Have You In My Wilderness’ tracks ‘Lucette Stranded On The Island’ and ‘Feel You’ before stunning the audience with a mesmerising version of ‘So Lillies’ from her 2011 debut ‘Tragedy’.
The charming Holter is backed by an eclectic mix of instruments – a double bass, viola, saxophone and drums accompany her piano melodies. “Now for a love song,” she announces before launching into ‘Silhouette’, followed by a slowed-down version of ‘Horns Surrounding Me’ from 2013’s ‘Loud City Song’.
Highlights of the set include the theatrical ‘Maxim’s II’ and main set closer ‘Betsy On The Roof’, a aching ballad based around a simple piano riff and haunting strings.
After, as Holter calls it, “the shortest wait ever”, the band returns and treats us to syncopated, jazzy wonder ‘Vasquez’ and the BBC 6 Music favourite, 2015 single ‘Sea Calls Me Home’, a swaying shanty with a singalong chorus.
Holter’s expertise in instrumentation and the enduring quality of her songwriting will no doubt ensure that she’ll be back to entertain us time and time again. Amongst her peers, she shines bright and manages to question the very definition of pop music without pretension.
Concorde2, Monday 21st November 2016
Words by Jasmine Scott
Photo by Melita Dennett