It’s true y’all, I have a coupla really cool jobs. Not that I need to toot my own horn or something (cuz I’m really classy etc.), but as executive editor of this adorbz blog that you’re reading right now, I get to do some cool stuff from time to time! So this week when I got an invitation to listen to a supreme vocalist who has been a staple on my playlist for the past decade, here at the Hard Rock Cafe in New Delhi, India, I
screamed like a pregnant hyena in labor was obviously very excited!
Songstress supreme Imogen Heap has been a fixture on my playlist since 2002, ever since she teamed up with Guy Sigsworth to create the British electronic duo Frou Frou, and released the thoroughly amazing album ‘Details’, which included the single ‘Let Go’ which is basically one of my fave songs of ALL time.
And when she released 2005’s ‘Speak For Yourself’, that album was absolutely everything that I needed to place Imogen in the same ranks as royalties like Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Natalie Merchant, Jewel or Sarah McLachlan..all of whom I’ve grown up listening to ever since I was a neophyte. The entire album was manically mind-blowing, and in the aftermath of its release, I’ve had a ridiculously large number (that’s officially non-publishable) of personal karaoke sessions in front of the mirror to ‘Goodnight And Go’, ‘Just For Now’, ‘Headlock’ and the global smash ‘Hide And Seek’. (Conclusion? If you particularly hate your life and have nothing much to do, the world is a maj-maj-magical place to live in when it’s just you, a mirror and Imogen’s songs.)
I was already a major fan by the time her 3rd solo album ‘Ellipse’ was released in 2009, and adding another Imogen Heap album to my collection just about made me the coolest music-geek around. When Imogen won her first Grammy for ‘Ellipse’, I was ecstatic! (duh…my Facebook status update that day was ‘well deserved Grammy for Imogen Heap’ ).
So if anybody would have told me last week that I’ll be in the audience singing the chorus for ‘Just For Now’ with Imogen right in front of me, my reaction would have been something like this –
But last night, when I actually realized that I was about to witness Imogen’s genius in a coupla hours, that Imogen Heap was about to perform live in front of me, my reaction quickly changed to something like this –
How amazing is my life as a blogger? (in case you’re jealous and you hate the fact that I exist, I totally love you right now).
By the time my friends and I had assembled inside the Hard Rock Cafe at around 10 o’clock at night, my excitement was likely at medically unsound levels. It was almost show time, and the show kicked off to a full house with Imogen’s opening act for the night, Ashwin Srinivasan, an Indian flautist and composer who has collaborated with Imogen on the song ‘Tidal’ from ‘Ellipse’. Now lemme take a moment here to focus on Ashwin, before I get completely Imogenized for the rest of the post.
Dude has some serious talent, and he kept the audience spellbound with his flute . I can totally see him collaborating with the likes of Loreena McKennitt or Karunesh or probably a coupla Indie or Neo-Soul acts, or mayhaps with the supreme Mother Monster and ruler of Psychoville Lady Gargoyle herself, since she’s recently made a visit to the country, and has already used Indian influences for some of her previous tracks, making everything Indian alarmingly cool. Either way, Ashwin’s worth watching out for, and I’m definitely intrigued about his upcoming album Ashwin and The Bombay Project.
After Ashwin’s brilliant performance, and a quick sound-check..there she was. It was Imogen effin’ Heap right in front of me looking all kindsa’ gorgeous, amidst hoots, cheers, frantic screams from an over-excited audience!
Most of the audience seemed to have heard of her or followed her career, some like me were major fans well familiarized with her discography, while some were there for the experience of it all. I happened to hear a very enthusiastic gentleman (looking every bit the Delhi fashionista dressed head to toe in unimaginably garish colors replete with an over-sized Gucci buckled belt adorning his slightly protruding paunch) say ‘This Imagine Heap singer is a rock singer no? Is she new?’.
IMAGINE HEAP ??
FAAAAACCKK NO!!! No to the hell NO!!
In all probability my face must have distorted itself into an incomprehensible grimace, and I must have made every face possible to man (and some impossible ones that I didn’t know I could make) all at the same time in response to this, cuz the aforementioned gentleman took one look at me and scooted off with his drink to a less hostile environment. You CANNOT possibly say such blasphemous words in front of a music aficionado and get away with it. The nerve.
Anyway, back to Imogen, who had taken to the stage by then and was all set to literally shake the entire foundation of the Hard Rock Cafe! The result? It was a sonic free-for-all!
The first thing you notice about Imogen on stage, the woman has some SERIOUS swag. All my life I’ve imagined her to be more of a subtle vocalist than a powerhouse performer, and to see her ooze major chutzpah, interact with the audience like it was nobody’s bizness, and quite literally bring the effin’ house down was just EVERYTHING!
Before I knew it, the starting strains of ‘Goodnight And Go’ reached my ears, and that caused me to transform into some kinda’ crazy rump-shakin’ insane animal (as very thoughtfully explained to me by my friends after the conclusion of the show). Well were you expecting a little clap and just a subtle shake of the boo-tay while my fave Imogen Heap track was being belted out live by none other than Mizz Imogen Heap herself? Really now? If so then you really oughta give up your entire life. (duhness)
Imogen performed them all, from ‘Headlock’ to ‘The Moment I Said It’ to ‘A-Ha’ to ‘First Train Home’, which was the first single from her Grammy winning 2009 album ‘Ellipse’.
But the night’s biggest highlight was when Imogen got the entire audience to sing one of my fave songs from ‘Speak For Yourself’, called ‘Just For Now’, along with her. THAT, right there, was EPIC! Literally nothing else mattered after that. You can’t even begin to imagine what that experience was all about…wait… don’t even try, just watch it here instead.
Another highlight of the show was a slightly stripped down version of my fave Frou Frou song ‘Let Go’. It was overwhelming, cuz I do have a whole lotta memories of 2002 and beyond attached to this song, and I literally died at the end of that performance, and that’s all you really need to know. Imogen sounded so damn lush on this one!
The next highlight caught all of us off-guard. The skilled multi-instrumentalist that Imogen is, she unveiled a pair of hi-tech gloves which she said were being unveiled for the first time, so the Delhi audience was the first to witness this new creation. Wearing these gloves, and using nothing but hand gestures, Imogen manipulated her voice, and played virtual instruments at the switch of lights on the gloves, and basically made the audience collectively gawk at her genius!
The wildest cheers and hoots were heard during the perfect rendition of the now-classic single and her biggest hit to date, ‘Hide And Seek’. Imogen was flawless, and it just reminded me yet again why I am such a huge fan of this flaw-free chanteuse for almost a decade.
The show concluded with a bang, while Imogen introduced the band as well as Ashwin, who shared his talent with Imogen on the concluding number. It was intimate, it was almost a one-on-one with Imogen, and yet the show had the energy fit for a damn rock concert! The audience went wild, and Imogen thanked the crowd with ‘Shukriya’, and left the stage. Now THAT’S how you put on a damn show!
Firstly, Kudos to the Hard Rock Cafe here in New Delhi. I’m glad they’re bringing in acts like Imogen, cuz there’s an entire bevy of talented vocalists around the world that totally go unnoticed here in India. Artists like Gotye, Ladi6, Aura Dione, Sarah Blasko, Caro Emerald, Asa, Kimbra, Ingrid Michaelson etc are huge in the touring circuit apart from being superstars, and India definitely has the appetite for great music. Another notable feature is the lack of Soul/R’n’B vocalists touring here in India. Not that I’m against any particular genre of music, but rock seems to be the forte here, mainly due to the lack of exposure, while the world has progressed to neo-soul/jazz/indie/lounge/crunk-n-b etc. Artists like Ledisi, Lalah Hathaway, Leela James, Chrisette Michele, Kem etc could be big in India, and the Hard Rock Cafe might just wanna look into that.
As far as I’m concerned, I could not feel my face after the show. I had witnessed the amazingness that was Imogen Heap right in front of my eyes. I wasn’t sure which was more impressive, Imogen the singer/song-writer, or Imogen the performer. All I was sure of was that I was in my happy place. And literally nothing else mattered..AT ALL.
Last night a DJ (and Imogen Heap) saved my life!
PS..In case you’re living under the world’s biggest rock and have yet to hear Imogen Heap’s music, not to be rude to y’all or something..but shoot yourself first. And then go get ‘Speak For Yourself’, ‘Ellipse’, Imogen’s 1998 début album ‘iMegaphone’ and the insanely amazing Frou Frou album ‘Details’. The truth shall prevail.
GIF’s from the amazing www.muumuuse.com