After Toronto waited five years for her return, New Zealand pop singer, Kimbra graced the stage with a sold out show at the Mod Club on February 2. In anticipation of her upcoming album Primal Heart, set for release on April 20, the singer proved that the wait was worth it. Performing a mix of new singles like Human and classics like Settle Down, Kimbra took the audience through a journey of her musical growth, while maintaining the energy and virtuosity longtime fans have come to love.
A stunning single from Primal Heart, Version of Me, kicked things off with a floating, drawn-out melody. The driving electronic elements that make up most of Kimbra’s new music took a back seat to her otherworldly vocals. Bursts of synth coloured the song here and there, with the singer’s overpowering voice drifting through loosely structured verses. Songs like the recently released Human began to pick up the pace for a show that didn’t let the energy die once. Kimbra’s relentless vocals and all-encompassing presence made the show an experience to remember. As the singer bounced about stage, fans clamoured towards her, unwaveringly dancing and singing along throughout the set.
Following a string of songs from Primal Heart, Kimbra launched into a throwback to one of her most popular singles Settle Down. The vocal heavy, looping track was flipped on its head and turned into a free-flowing track with dreamy electronic sounds. What was great about this new take on the single is the execution of it. The song didn’t feel like it was grasping to fit into Kimbra’s new sound, rather she took the best elements of each musical line and effortlessly moulded them to represent where her music is going. Towards the end of the show, Kimbra slowed things down with the delicate Past Love. Giving her band a break, she stood alone on stage with her guitar. As her vocals echoed through the venue, the singer laid her heart out on stage and showcased the power of the human voice in the purest form.
As a vocalist, the pop singer is unbelievably skilled in using her voice as an instrument to its full potential. Throughout the night, Kimbra effortlessly switched between belting out dynamic melodies to soft musings in head voice. She carefully paired her larger-than-life vocals with immersive sounds that complimented, instead of overpowering, her voice. Ending her set with the forceful Top of the World, Kimbra packed a punch, finishing the show on a high note. Uninhibited and undeniably catchy, this track’s commanding energy had the crowd and Kimbra, herself, lost in the moment. In a flash, the show was over and fans were cheering for more. Returning for an encore, the singer performed the last track from Primal Heart, Real Life before heading off stage, but fans wanted even more.
The singer returned for a second encore — an impromptu cover of Amy Winehouse’s I Heard Love is Blind — telling the crowd that she had never performed this song. It was clear to see that the song meant a lot to the singer, and she was happy to share it with her Toronto fans.
Kimbra has been carving a name for herself as a pop singer, and with each new album she transforms her sound in subtle, yet powerful ways. After treating fans to a number of new tracks, it’s safe to say that we are all eagerly awaiting the official release of Primal Heart in April.
Words and photos by Cassandra Popescu