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Messages - Riverrun

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The approach to the Berghain venue in Berlin was through an industrial zone and didn’t look very inviting. Walking up the path to the building itself was even a little foreboding. Berghain was a former power station, a monolith of a building; the reputation of it’s staff for their rudeness and brusque way of dealing with clientele seemed appropriate to the brooding presence of the place. It’s one redeeming feature, apparently, was a world-class sound system. Three members of Cult of Calvi had met earlier in the day and were joined by two others, making up a strong cohort of Anna followers, all of us anticipating to varying  degrees this first show of Anna’s rapid-fire, three-legged European tour. Naturally, we were close to the front of the queue by the time the doors opened shortly after 7 pm.
 
The austere functionalism of the exterior made the spectacle of what greeted us inside even more amazing. Having been rigorously searched and our phone cameras taped (front and back) we made our way through a small, dimly lit room with wire meshing into a larger, equally dimly lit, room where merchandise was being sold,  mainly the new range of Anna T-Shirts. We were then directed up a wide, dark metal staircase up into what later became apparent as the generating room at the heart of the old power station. As we ascended from the ground floor, placing our feet where we couldn’t see, our walk became even more uncertain because we were completely distracted by the gradual emergence of the vast space into which we were entering, bathed as it was in a warm glow of slowly turning and traversing pools of sensuous red lighting. It was a breathtaking setting and infinitely increased the expectations for the evening.
 
Some of these expectations were fairly well shattered, albeit temporarily,  by the time the supporting DJs had finished playing their wholly out-of-keeping-with-the-setting  music at about 9 pm.  We had assumed that Anna would appear shortly after that. But by 9.30 their was still no sign of Alex, Mally or Anna. After some of the audience started chanting “Anna, Anna”,  Alex and Mally could be seen coming on stage through the dim light; but it was still some minutes before Anna emerged, amidst general applause, at about 9.50 pm.
 
The set list for the show is well known at this stage, being the same for all three gigs, with the first five songs taken straight from the new album. The band was back to its three members, with Mally on bass, keyboards and percussion (no harmonium) and Alex on drums. The opening song “Away” is a plaintive ballad, simply constructed with a lingering refrain – “You know I ask….no more of it all”, which is repeated many times, becoming almost mantra-like. The song has a strong resemblance to “Dreams” but sends out a very different message, I think! Anna performs the entire song standing quite still at the end of the walkway which protrudes into the venue; her voice is powerful and quite in turn, the simple guitar chords echoing an underlying sadness and sense of inevitability. There is no showmanship here and it is a sobering and thoughtful opening.
 
Anna remains at the front of the walkway for the start of “indies and Paradise”, moving up and down the walkway as the song progresses. The tempo now is more upbeat, with some wild guitar salvos accompanying lyrics that sound like “I get lost in the air in paradise – somebody came through – somebody crawling”. Three is certainly a visceral feel to this with Anna expressing an almost animalistic desire, seemingly to be as wild as she can be and be as “lost” as she wants to be; although a reflective period near the end of the song seems to be chastising someone for “not coming to save me” – from herself? For all the wildness of the guitar playing, Anna’s delivery is in her traditional style.
 
The title song from the new album is up next. “Hunter” starts off in a subdued manner with some familiar-sounding guitar riffs and a rather lovely melody from Mally on the keyboard.  I’m not sure about the theme of the song with lyrics that sound like “I wanted to survive – nothing less (left?) – flowers in (my) hair, red light on forever, nothing will compare”. Anna’s voice is the highlight here, her performance ultra sexy and alluring and a chorus that’s appealing and very much classic Anna.
 
The by-now-familiar poppy intro to “Don’t Beat the Girl Out of my Boy” is greeted with loud applause – not sure if this is out of recognition or approval; possibly both? Anna sings: “You’re so fine, in our wonderlust we ride; so wild, like the darkest waves at night.” It’s at about two-thirds of the way though the song that Anna takes off the guitar and walks to the front of the catwalk, where she falls to her knees and gives full vent to her voice. The audience love it and Anna looks happy as she walks back to the stage mike.
 
“As A Man” follows, accompanied by a driving beat and a classic Anna guitar riff half way through: “Oh, when it’s dark and many will meet me, something has changed, a feeling, discreetly. Oh, now I feel, now I feel you completely, and now I’m walking and talking, As a man”. There’s a very catchy chorus to this too, repeated three or four times during the song and with which the song finishes.
 
A brilliant, slightly re-worked version of “Suzanne and I” (amidst huge cheers and clapping from the audience) is performed at the stage mike, followed by “I’ll Be Your Man” which has a lengthy two-minute guitar intro, during which Anna walks up and down the catwalk, before returning to the stage mike for the actual singing.
 
A irregular drum rhythm signals the start of “Alpha” with Anna making staccato sounds on the guitar: “Electrify, I wanna know if I can satisfy, I wanna know if I can feel alive, I wanna know because I’m an Alpha”. What sounds at first a little discordant soon becomes very harmonious, leading to a wonderful vocalising of the melody. After about four minutes Anna breaks into a savage guitar piece, sliding up and down the frets, before falling on her knees halfway down the catwalk, whilst continuing to play, causing some members of the audience to duck or move out of the way of the swinging guitar. Finally, Anna stands up and throws the guitar down – not too hard! Then she starts to kick the guitar, but again it’s not really done with any venom, until she finally drags the guitar behind her with one arm raised in the air as she heads back to the stage and then turns around and walks back to the front of the catwalk, talking the applause of the audience as she stands there with head bent backwards.
 
After the relative frenzy of that, Anna remains at the catwalk mike and, reunited with her guitar, performs a very sultry “No More Words”.
 
Staying at the end of the catwalk, as the lighting in the venue changes to blue, a long lyrical intro by Anna on guitar signals the beginning of “Swimming Pool”. This flows magically, Mally creating a other-worldly ambiance on the keyboard as Anna weaves a fabric of great beauty with voice and guitar, she seemingly in a trance-like mode. This is a highpoint of the show.
 
The magic spell is broken by “Chain” with Mally taking to the bass guitar and Anna harmonising with her guitar, before Anna signs “she took me to the backseat and she told me, she told me, don’t (leave?)”. The interplay between Anna’s voice and the guitar is excellent as Anna sings the refrain “Chain Me” over and over, creating quite an amount of energy and passion and drawing a few yelps from the crowd. This is vintage Anna with a throwback sound and some really good guitar playing; Anna finishing the final minute or so of the song at the end of the walkway continuing the guitar / vocal conversation as she chants “Chain Me, Chain me”.
 
“Wish” is the penultimate songs before the encore and the last of the numbers from the new album. “I got one more wish before I die, No don’t you stop it”. A frenetic strumming of the guitar is soon matched by a driving drum beat from Alex, with Mally poured over the keyboards, as Anna’s voice soars, eventually leading into a heady piece on the guitar. Anna’s voice is brilliant again during this. After about four minutes everything suddenly becomes very subdued, with a barely audible chord from Mally, as Anna grabs the stage mike and walks down the catwalk. On her knees, she engages with individual fans, before launching into a frenzied guitar piece, which leads to a hushed conclusion, as Anna sings “cherish? Your eyes”?
 
“Desire” closes out the set proper, with the encore raucously demanded and devoured. I think Anna was very emotional at this stage, and that emotion caused her to lose control, temporarily, of her voice as she tried to master the early stages of “Sing To Me”. Normal service was restored for “LWBL” and “Ghost Rider” and as Anna and Mally and Alex accepted the accolades, the applause was sustained for a further five minutes or more after they had departed.
 
With all the discussion and debate that has taken place since Anna released the new single, and her “Hunter” manifesto, this new music is certainly “primal and beautiful, vulnerable and strong.” More than anything else, it is a love manifesto. Anna has learned from her Offenbach experience and created her own Love Rock Opera. This new music is such a personal expression by Anna. The level of honesty in the music is extraordinary and no one can ask more of any artist than to be honest. The songs ooze sexuality and personal feelings, with Anna very much a woman who is intoxicated with desire. Her stage presence is so charismatic and attention-demanding, more so now than ever, as she exposes her innermost feelings through this music. It is a rare gift that we should gratefully accept.

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News & Interviews / Re: Anna , New album and Tour
« on: December 24, 2017, 04:02:29 PM »
Speculation is futile, but I can’t help wondering what Anna’s upcoming album will be like. Anna is quoted as saying that she is really proud of the new album, that it is the most fully realised work that she has done! If this means that it is better than the first two albums, we are in for a treat.
Reading Anna’s Facebook post on 21st December indicates that the new music is going to be more personal than ever, so I think we can expect more “laying bare” of relationships, not necessarily in the lyrics but certainly in the music; Anna, after all, is first and foremost a musician. To achieve this extra emotion, I expect Anna will delve deeply into her classical influences. These will be subtle (as ever) and therefore hard to identify but I’m expecting a multi-layered sound that will be rich and powerful, interspersed with quieter moments than will enhance the effect that much more.
Of course, I could be wrong; so perhaps an even bigger surprise awaits us! Can’t wait.

3
Anna's Music / Birthday Greetings
« on: September 24, 2017, 08:47:02 AM »
  Dear Anna,
Every one of us here at Cult of Calvi want to wish you the warmest greetings on your Birthday.
Although you are physically distant from us, our hearts and minds are always with you, especially today.
And even though we are straining at the leash to go to see you at a gig, all the amazing shows that you have given us in the past continue to sustain us. And while some of us begin to have wild illusions about your new album, all the wonderful music that you have created so far helps us to be patient, in anticipation of what is to come.
Thank you for everything. We truly hope you have an unforgettable day.
From all at Cult of Calvi.

4
News & Interviews / Re: Happy Birthday Anna !
« on: September 24, 2016, 10:04:36 AM »
               We Dream

(to Anna, on her birthday)

A feather on the breath of life,
A ripple in the cosmic sea,
What more can we hope to be?
For now, we plough a firmer course,
Forgetting where we are in space and time.
Now, we are so certain and so sure,
Ignoring all we cannot know.
Resolute in everything we do,
We never dwell on invisibilities
But flaunt our knowledge and our skills,
Our future firmly set, our past irrelevant.

You lead us on a different path:
Every moment treasured, not dispersed;
Our histories a part of who we are,
Our loves, our lives in humanity immersed.

With you, we dream:
You carry us to lands unseen,
Show us what we consciously won’t see,
Awakening ancestral means
To stoke minds into feverish reverie.
You take us to the sun,
Your music illuminating everything.


24 September 2016

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Here are my final two videos from Cardiff:

Ghost Rider + I'll Be Your Man     

Wolf Like me                                           

Hope you all enjoy.

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Another video from Cardiff Festival of Voice:  Suzanne and I



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Thanks Michael. Great to have these as a reminder of the wonderday in Cardiff.

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Here's the third video

Suddenly


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AC, here is an (incomplete) set list;

Sing to Me
Riders to the Sea
Blackout
Suddenly
Suzanne and I
Ghost Rider
I'll Be Your Man
Wolf Like Me
No More Words
Desire
Love Won't Be Leaving

There may one other song, but I can't remember.
Thanks to Peter for help with this.
 

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The next video from  Cardiff  covers Riders to the Sea  and Blackout



11
Here's the first of several videos I took of the gig in Cardiff:




12
Here's a little something to keep us going. You've seen it before as part of a longer video but I've separated it out now from the other performances  so it stands alone as Anna doing her own thing (with a little help from Thomas Bartlett) on her interpretation of W B Yeats "Sweet Dancer". I been able to improve the video quality slightly.
To me Anna's voice is absolutely beautiful on this song; she seems to have hit on the perfect pitch. Allied with the wonderful guitar riffs, it's a really strong performance. The more I hear it the more i like.
I hope you agree.




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Performances / Re: Montreux Jazz Festival - Switzerland - July 15th, 2015
« on: November 20, 2015, 04:05:16 PM »
Thanks AC.

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News & Interviews / Re: Mercury music awards
« on: November 20, 2015, 04:04:19 PM »
Thanks Michael. Hopefully we'll catch a glimpse of Anna - just to remind us what she looks like!

15
This 2nd video is  more interesting - Anna does a little bit of solo guitar for the last minute of the song:




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