Imogen Heap was a talented musician, innovator and mentor at her sold-out El Mocambo show in Toronto on Thursday.
After a bit of a wait for the doors to open, my man and I managed to stake out a spot (standing) only eight feet from the stage. All three acts had their equipment set up, with the butterfly-adorned mic stands and fluffy throw over the keyboard obviously giving away Immi's post (so close!). Immi herself came onstage (to great applause) and introduced her first supporting act, Zoe Keating. Zoe was armed with her cello and some digital backup, which she apologized for--"Sorry to be fiddling with these knobs!" At any rate, it was very interesting to see the dread-locked Zoe in this venue--I could only imagine she had been the impetuous cello student who didn't want to stick to playing her instrument the traditional way. She bounced her bow on the strings and took samples of herself and replayed them to create backing tracks. Immi herself looked on intently from backstage, the supportive musician and friend.
After a four-song set, Zoe left the stage and Immi came back to introduce the second act, Milosh, who was a special guest for this stop on her tour. Putting 2 and 2 together--seems likely she discovered Milosh via myspace.com and, as she said when she introduced him, took a chance and invited him to perform in her show.
Thus began the Apple portion of the show--for both Milosh and Imogen were backed up by their own PowerBooks. Milosh also had a friend on hand to help--they worked with two guitars, the PowerBook, and [Mike] Milosh's vocals to create an engaging set, which, other than the gentle vocals, brought to mind Underworld at their quieter moments. Milosh seemed shy, but really opened up once they broke into his single, "You Make Me Feel," which the crowd obviously enjoyed. [If you check online--what an amazing video!] Another song later, they cleared off the stage to make way for Immi (who had been watching them from offstage as well).
Immi came on stage to great applause and introduced her band--her vocoder, keyboard, tone box, and parrot--that is, her mimicking parrot, for she was referring to her recorder/sampler. Her spirit and humor came across abundantly during her performance as she worked both gentle and more boisterous songs. I think most of the crowd was as I was--hanging on every syllable and sigh as she deftly managed her "band." It was fascinating to see and hear her as she performed and proceeded to play samples of her own voice (which she took before our very eyes) to create layered vocals. During some songs, Zoe Keating returned to the stage to provide cello accompaniment, adding further depth to the performance. Immi played on the keyboard and, in the same breath, would turn around and pluck the metal prongs of her tone box and keep singing, if not also press a laptop button to sound a pre-recorded sample as well.
Highlights of the show included lovely performances of "Goodnight and Go," "Loose Ends," and "Hide and Seek." The crowd definitely loved the Frou Frou song "Let Go" (from "Garden State"). I was thrilled she performed "Can't Take It In" (from "The Chronicles of Narnia"--with Zoe on cello) and was most bowled over by "Come Here Boy" (from her debut album), which was a quieter performance with fewer electronic elements, but featured her vocals to most sublime effect.
She joked about the silliness of her "last" song and saying goodbye, as most every musician comes back for an encore. So, after playing "Sleep," she left stage for a few moments (during thrilled applause) and then returned to do "It's Good To Be In Love" and "The Moment I Said It"--which was a perfect cap to the show, as it's one of my favorites.
I wasn't that hopeful of a chance to ask her to sign the CD I brought, but we waited anyway as the equipment was taken down and the crowd thinned out. Some time later, those of us who stayed were indeed rewarded for our patience, for Immi came out and spoke to us and signed whatever was presented. I was especially lucky! (see picture--thanks to William) I told her how glad I was to have heard her do "Can't Take It In"--she said that she wants to do more soundtrack work (in tandem with her own album production) and will be working with Harry Gregson-Williams (who did the "Narnia" soundtrack) in the future. Other than that, I was speechless, but was so glad to have met her (and see her perform live!).
Thanks Again Evan!