"Oh, I feel like Morrissey," beams a humbled Anna Calvi as she's showered with roses from kiss-blowing fans. It was Morrissey who named her an 'inspiration' after she supported him at The O2 last month. What they both share is that larger than life sense of romantic melodrama. Tonight, in the quite palatial St John's Church and backed by The Heritage Orchestra and Choir, that sense is turned up to 11.
With an audience largely consisting of mulled wine supping thirty-somethings in rather dapper winter dress, it's fair to say that those who gathered here tonight are the more avid follower of the church of Calvi, without a casual fan present. This becomes evident when the bubble of polite patience is burst as the red lights dim and the orchestra line the stage.
Stepping out for an achingly lush opener of 'The Bridge' before the guitar maestro mini-opera of 'Rider To The Sea', the backing of The Heritage Orchestra and choir embellish the already dizzying flourishes of Calvi's sky-reaching theatrics.
The first of tonight's promised guests arrived as The Invisible's Dave Okumu joins Calvi for a sultry rendition of 'I'm The Man That Will Find You' by Connnan Mockasin. 'First We Kiss' has never sounded so ornate and rich, and her cover of FKA Twigs' 'Papi Pacify' is somehow more enigmatic than the original, laced with a heightened vulnerability a shudder-inducing touch of intimacy.
Collaborator Charlie Fink from Noah & The Whale replaces David Byrne's baritone for his own (and very skilfully too, we might add) on 'Strange Weather', before a surprising highlight comes with Calvi's cover of Springsteen's 'Fire' - with her vocal starting as a subdued whisper, progressing to a grunt and climaxing in an almighty, yearning howl. Goosebumps.
Patrick Wolf, decked out in Clockwork Orange garb, brings his own inimitable gothic intensity on 'Kiss To Your Twin', ending his performance with a kowtow and the gift of a rose. The first of many as they begin raining from the sky. The waves of flowing from stage to crowd and back again are pretty overwhelming, especially during her stirring take on Bowie's 'Lady Grinning Soul' and a stripped back closer of 'Eliza'. Calvi's meandering vocal provides the skeleton while the accompanying strings wrap around like a vine up a trellis.
This is music as its most three-dimensional and sensually opulent, and we just can't get enough.
Rider To The Sea
Sing To Me
I'm The Man That Will Find You (Featuring Dave Okumu)
First We Kiss
Strange Weather (Featuring Charlie Fink)
No More Words (Featuring Dave Okumu)
Kiss To Your Twin (Featuring Patrick Wolf)
Suzanne And I
Love Won't Be Leaving
Lady Grinning Soul