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Anna Calvi, Live in NYC (VIDEO)

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Here's Anna Calvi performing at Le Poisson Rouge, which was once the legendary jazz venue the Village Gate -- which itself was originally a flophouse for men, making for an interesting bit of fate, as Nina Simone (whom Calvi cites as a favorite) performed on this stage, and additionally, an early Calvi project was titled Cheap Hotel, releasing one single "New York"...

I missed Calvi's NYC debut in February, but I made sure I was at this show at LPR. These four performances are comprised partly of the same footage, used differently in every clip, and culminating with the same segment which appears early in the first clip.

You gotta love hearing a genuine gut-bucket, leave-it-all-on-the-stage singer, playing the legendary Bleecker St...Anna Calvi filmed live at Le Poisson Rouge, Bleeker St, NYC
By Michael Vazquez

Le Poisson Rouge was once the legendary Jazz venue the Village Gate which was originally a flophouse for men - which is interesting bit of fate, as an earl Calvi project was titled Cheap Hotel, (B-side "New York")

Wikitrivia: "The Village Gate was a nightclub at the corner of Thompson and Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, New York. Art D'Lugoff opened the club in 1958, on the ground floor and basement of 158 Bleeker Street. The large 1896 Chicago School structure by architect Ernest Flagg, was known at the time as Mills House No. 1 and served as a flophouse for transient men."


"Throughout its 38 years
the Village Gate featured such musicians as John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Vasant Rai, Nina Simone, Herbie Mann and Aretha Franklin, who made her first New York appearance there. The show Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, debuted at the Village Gate in 1968."

When Calvi sang the words "Only the lonely-eeeh/Only the lonely fa-aah-aah-aaall", I flashed not only to Roy Orbison -- Calvi's windswept troubadour-style and her Tango flourishes within a pop context certainly relate -- but also momentarily to The Motels' "Only The Lonely" -- adding to the oddball coincidence that a prior Calvi project was titled "Cheap Hotel".

Random Notes

By way of adding to the more or less unnecessary list of comparisons that folks feel compelled to make, I'll add my own, noting that in another time, namely the early 80s, Calvi might have been called a New Romantic -- and rightly so, as she is very certainly from a rich tradition of self-invention-plus-talent-plus-enduring musical influences --and the ability to use them and even cover them while still making a unique contribution.

Through the lens, Calvi's striking almond-shaped face, and her well-draped blouse and slacks, reminded me of Diamond Life-era Sade, easily the proudest and most enduring New Romantic of all time (and the all time best-selling British female singer). I was also reminded of Claire Grogan, the gamine singer from Altered Images -- and by way of still another oddball coincidence, a long time ago in a decade far, far away, the very interesting record label Portrait had signed both Sade and Altered Images.

In positing Calvi as part of this lineage, I am speaking of the conceptual and stylistic motifs -- the essential-ness of their style itself to the persona they present.

While Sade's persona evokes a classic Continental suaveness, straight-up grace, and elusive cool (which was counterbalanced by a mystifying passion) and where Grogan brought the kind of boppy, bubbly gamine party girl (like maybe the ingénue in The Cure's " "Catch") Calvi picks up on more Gothic themes, which she expresses through her temptress persona. As has been cited more than a few times, Calvi is certainly influenced by Lynchian motifs, but there's infinitely more to her, which is best discovered live.