'You'd struggle to find a more intense presence or natural talent'
Andrew Trendell

15:37 9th February 2014

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In a world of extremes, Anna Calvi is the perfect centre. A humbling persona, but within her slight frame is a bone-rattling force of nature. 

Within the palatial setting of London's beautiful Troxy, she steps out on the stage with striking presence. Kohl-eyed, red-lipped and with a fire in her eyes, the rumbling drums of 'Suzanne And I' open the evening as Calvi uses the Troxy as a canvas to paint her world of cinematic wonder. 

As the Morricone-esque explosion of One Breath's 'Eliza' fills each corner of the vast arena, you realise exactly what it is that makes Calvi so special. She's so refreshingly free of the zeitgeist with no sense of gimmickry. She does this by weaving a sound that is ultimately timeless. 

Most gigs of this size invite a fair of dithering chit-chat from casual hangers on in the quieter moments. However, during her tender crooning howl during 'Sing To Me', all you can hear is the dumbstruck awe of an audience with their hearts at the back of their throat. 

Why? Simple. You'd struggle to find a more intense presence, a more compelling showman or a more natural talent than Calvi - especially as her maestro-like guitar skills were self-taught. From the scorched sounds of 'I'll Be Your Man' into the grunge-tinged ruckus of 'Love Of My Life' and the kinetic pitter-patter of 'Piece by Piece', the seemingly demure figure that shyly smiles between tracks hides an almighty beast, full of gloriousn noise.

Wrapping her full-bodied texture of sound around Bruce Springsteen's 'Fire' is another unforgettable moment, before the devilish closer of 'Jezebel sends fans scurrying to the aftershow. 

Next up, Calvi performed an intimate stripped down gig down the road in the humble, crumbling charm of the wonderful George Tavern where around 100 fans clamoured together. It may have only been a few minutes walk away, but the quaint, soft light of the Grade II listed pub, seemed a million miles from the epic majesty of the Troxy. But it's here where Calvi truly shines. 

With just a mic and her guitar, Calvi's talent proves three-dimensional in turning this rustic boozer into the set of her own romantic epic. With a smattering of her own tracks thrown in with covers of Bowie' 'Sound And Vision', TV On The Radio's 'Wolf Like Me', 'Foxy Lady' by Jimi Hendrix and a Jeff Buckley classic or two, Calvi manipulates her guitar like it's an extension of her body. 

Many artists fall down in such a scenario, but up close and personal, the microscope highlights the nuances and flourishes that make Calvi the rarest of talent. Whether in the dramatic grandeur of the Troxy or the romantic intimacy of The Troxy, only a true artist like this can keep everything grounded - a magnificent centre in a world of extremes. 

Anna Calvi's Troxy setlist was:
Suzanne and I
Sing to Me
First We Kiss
I'll Be Your Man
Love of My Life
Piece by Piece
Carry Me Over
A Kiss to Your Twin
Fire (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Love Won't Be Leaving
Bleed Into Me
Jezebel (Frankie Laine cover)

Below: More exclusive photos of Anna Calvi at The Troxy and George Tavern

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Photo: Justine Trickett