An amazing mixed bunch of people had rocked up to the Art Gallery to welcome the former diva and front woman of Killing Heidi and The Verses – Ella Hooper. There were younger women dressed to thrill and older audience members (50/60s) in hip couples. Nothing in between. Odd!!
After a brilliant food and beverage service, snappy, prompt and delicious, we settled in for the show.
Bang on 8.00pm Ella and her band took the stage.
The reincarnated brunette wore a secretary-like pleated skirt and a muted sheer black shirt. A huge change from her raunchy Killing Heidi outfits.
Enthusiastic, vivacious and eager to please she launched into a series of songs from her soon to be released album In Tongues. She informed us, at length, that it was her first solo album. She was an ingénue at the solo singer game and constantly thanked the audience for “coming out.” She really need not have bothered. The crowd was hers from the word go.
Hooper was in excellent voice and her diction was refreshingly clear. She is a theatrical, vivacious performer who uses dramatic gesture to illustrate her lyrics and woo her audience. Her three piece band were excellent and created a lovely “wall of sound” effect on numbers In Tongues and Häxan. There was a lot of technical wizardry going on here as well as backing vocals from guitarist Tim Harvey and Robin Waters on keyboards. The album appears to be a soul searching journey through a doomed relationship. What’s new? But there was evidence of good start-up songwriting skill. I loved “Everything was a Sign” and “Dead Star” was a killer.
Interestingly Hooper incorporates wandering riffs and warbles that in jazz would be interpreted as improvised. They are not in this case and often lengthen the songs considerably. This is one of her trademarks and audiences seem not a jot deterred by it. Her between songs chat is delightfully intimate and girlish.
The playlist of numbers could have been more varied in style as evidenced by the very welcome double beat hand clap segment in Dead Star. However Hooper charmed the audience with her passionate interpretation of the ballet-inspired Red Shoes. The imagery of the “Laces tied to you” and “Dancing in my blood” were particularly poignant.
The signature number of the album, already released as a single, Low High closed the set to tumultuous audience approval.
This could be the start of something big!
Venue: ARTBAR | Art Gallery Of WA, Perth WA
Date: Thursday 8 May, 2014