Kimbra's kaleidoscopic pop shines at World Cafe Live
Kimbra | Photo by Morgan Smith |

The sophomore effort of Kimbra Johnson, co-star of 2012’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, is anything but sophomoric and, frankly, Gotye should be thanking his lucky stars for playing her “somebody.” Kimbra‘s lush, sinuous pop masterclass “Golden Echo” is an anarchic yet remarkably cohesive melange of elements altogether unique to this beautifully strange Kiwi; the echo of a distant echo perhaps, as the album’s spectacular reverberations are entirely fresh and ambitious in scope. At no point did Kimbra’s performance Saturday at World Cafe Live fail to deliver on the promise of her recordings, either.

Her synthesis of R&B, jazz, psychedelia and pop vibrations was perfectly wielded by a kaleidoscopic inventiveness and amplified by her command of visual impact. Swooping onto the darkened set in a volcanic overcoat, backed by the lustful, throbbing bass of “Heat of The Moment,” her voice erupted and flowed through cords which doubtlessly strained to contain her. Beneath the outerwear was a chrome work of surreal art, dropping to unveil a mylar madonna as spectacular and sprawling as her sonic derivations.

Her vocal and stylistic range was subversive and baffling, a mercurial sort of soulful, funky, psychedelic pop. With the crowd screaming along, SEGA-synth bass pulsed out into our chests during “Nobody But You”, while the guitar of “Waltz Me To The Grave” purred out soft feline trills. The clattering percussion and ethereal bass of “Love in High Places” wrapped the fawning crowd up – and Kimbra, too, as she tangled herself in the cord and nearly lost her footing. She made a sly recovery, though (particularly impressive once you peep her footwear), proclaiming “Philly! Ya doin’ something to me!” to many smiles and cheers.

There was a totality to her performance that night, with vivid passion dripping from her voice and evident in each gliding or staccato movement across the stage. All in all, you can be sure that with the path she’s beating she’ll deliver nothing less than a stellar performance. When she coos “don’t want to be a broken record / don’t want to sing the same refrain” you know she means it.

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