Friday, 16 February 2018

Natalie Imbruglia

15th February 2018

Queens Hall, Edinburgh

Even though a few lines in the lyric border on the ropey: “I saw a man brought to life.  He was warm, he came around like he was dignified”, and the chord progression borrows shamelessly from Pachabel's Canon, I think Torn is pretty close to being the perfect pop song.  Or, at least, Natalie Imbruglia's recording of it is.   

It is just over 20 years since the tune was a whopping hit around the planet, and I was surprised to learn this evening that it had never reached Number One in the UK.  Although I am not convinced by Natalie's assertion that it was Mr Blobby who kept it her off the pinnacle.  Mr B, I am sure, had wobbled along some years earlier.  

Her mis-recollection was further compounded by her informing us that 2005's Shiver had in fact been her only Number One.  Well, it was – but only (according to Wiki) in Hungary.  Does that count?.  Perhaps it does.

On the back of Torn, the lady had enjoyed a multi-million selling album Left of the Middle, which itself had given birth to a trio of further hit singles of varying degrees of success.  I am sure Ms. Imbruglia has been extremely busy in the two decades since but, apart from seeing her pitch up in one of the Johnny English films, little she has achieved has impacted upon my consciousness.  Although she did briefly date the ugly one from Friends. I seem to recall.

For the past year or so, she has been touring an “acoustic evening” around a series of smaller, intimate venues – one such being the Edinburgh Queens Hall.

The Queens Hall, Edinburgh

Fronting a tight three piece (although not acoustic) band, she rattled through a slickly entertaining ninety minute set, which never quite roused the mostly middle-aged Edinburgh audience.  What was impressive though, was Natalie's ability to dance around in six-inch stiletto boots.

Not surprisingly her first two albums were heavily featured, although there were a few surprises in the set.  None more so perhaps than her fine cover of Death Cab For Cutie's heart-warmingly morbid suicide note I Will Follow You Into The Dark.  There were a brace of slower bluesy pieces midway through the set, wherein her guitarist's fine slide work perhaps gave a clue to where his musical heart truly lay. 

Torn was presented “with a twist”; the opening verse sung backed only by electric piano – this stripped back arrangement owing more than a little to Ednaswap's original recording.  

I think the only other song from her 2015 covers album Male, was a rather anodyne take on Daft Punk's Instant Crush.  Given the album houses her interpretations of songs by the likes of Pete Townshend, The Cure and Neil Young I think I would have really rather enjoyed proceedings more had Natalie had been brave enough to have performed a few more songs from that collection.

Natalie Imbruglia - Edinburgh - Feb 2018

Support for the evening had been the oddly named KIOL; a disgustingly youthful Italian chap. who accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and a foot operated bass drum synthesiser.  Which looked a devilishly complex combination to get right.  And which he generally succeeded in doing, I am pleased to relate.  Within his short set we had one song sung in Italian, followed by his new single Hard Thingsneither of which really floated my boat I have to say.

His final two tunes (Broken Up Again and Wrinkless) were a class apart however; what I imagine George Ezra may sound like if backed by Rusted Root.  This brace enticed me over to the chap's merch stall during the break.  Here I learned he had taken up his stage name (real name Allesandro Bossi) whilst performing in Ireland, where a local Gaelic speaker had told him he was “Ceol”.  Which simply means "music".  

How very apt. 

KIOL - Edinburgh - Feb 2018

KIOL - Edinburgh - Feb 2018

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