26 January 2004
The Disconnection Tour
Review by James Mcclelland
The set starts tonight with Shoot, the opener from Carina Rounds latest album, The Disconnection. Over a dominant, repeating section of drumbeats, Carinas vocals are at first calm and controlled, but soon shes thrown from her reverie and becomes pleading, wearied, and at last anguished. To a degree, its like a microcosm of tonights set Carina has an excellent voice and avoids the temptation of sticking to a formula. She does scream once or twice, but its in the context of great, building songs where you feel shes earned it. Elsewhere, angsty rock numbers and more understated, semi-acoustic readings sit comfortably together to ensure interest rarely wanes, through a set drawing mainly from her current album, with a few, including the sole encore, from her debut. While the show is mostly about Carina, she looks great, sounds great and has a great stage presence (tortured indie diva whos not afraid to do a Thom- Yorke-esque juddery dance or exchange a few friendly words with the crowd). Masked guitarist Tom Livemore uses a textured arsenal of effects to complement Carinas lyrics well, and its all underpinned by some competent drumming.
The best song of the night is the magnificent set-closer, a cover of The Pixies Ive Been Tired. Carinas performance is truly startling as, mid-way though the song, the guitar drops out to leave an empty space for the spontaneous-sounding waves of lyrics. The band accompany her perfectly throughout, building to an arresting climax of the kind that leaves you with nothing else to say but wow which doesnt happen very often. Definitely one to look out for.
If Carina Round had a New York postcode attached to her name, she would be the pin-up of the alternative press: NME's Goddess of the Universe. As it is the Wolverhampton-born singer has been criminally ignored. That is, until this latest tour when critics finally have clued in to the fact that bound up in her polite and soft-spoken form was a sensuous vixen the likes of PJ Harvey and Tori Amos would be envious. I have never heard her music as she takes to the stage before a small but devoted audience. The fragile soft-spoken women with whom I talked earlier is now replaced with smoky eyeliner and a radiant confidence, and after the first song I am transfixed. By the second I am willing to beat the noisy lager louts in the corner into submission for her.
Oozing sexuality, Carina completely overshadows her (accomplished) band as she sways and twists, pouring herself into the music. Which is breathtaking. Stage presence aside, the songs are layered and insistent, with infectiously dirty guitar chords and an aching crescendo of drum. They build and break and resurge into a raucously melodic climax that displays rich musicality and finely crafted writing, but it is her voice that seduces us. Slow and melting on the forthcoming single 'Lacuna', or unrelenting wail for the resolution of 'Shoot', Carina's vocals slide across the range with infinite ease that transforms songs from heartbreaking to passionate anger in a heartbeat. 'Elegy' uses the double bass cello for a hauntingly rich lament, while 'Into My Blood' is an artfully constructed theatre piece of emotion that resonates with passion. The recorded music makes greater use of electronic layering, but the absence of this live poses no challenge.
With her dark pout and anguished stamp ready to adorn any magazine cover, by the time she growls 'I want you in my bed with me', none of us would refuse her. AM