With the doors opening much later than advertised (just 10 minutes before the support), the Stereo basement is filled with much shuffling and chatter during K.YALO’s opening slot. It isn’t really helped that the music is strangely quiet and performed in almost complete darkness. The visuals on the small screen behind the stage provide a smooth complement to the electronic soundscapes, and when the heavier beats intermittently arrive there’s a sense that this could be a commanding set, but as it is it seems pitched at a level between the usual background music and a performance in its own right.
There’s a lot of expectation ahead of Tirzah’s arrival – possibly just the enigmatic nature of the singer, or perhaps her surprise-released new album, trip9love…???, released just ten days prior, has been striking the right note. But whatever the case, her arrival is nonchalant, heralding more hushed reverence rather than excitement.
Mica Levi is on hand to provide the arrangements, hovering at a hefty electronic rig and mostly invisible in the darkness. Tirzah herself sways around the front of the stage when singing, lost in the moment of delivery and making few concessions to the crowd hanging on her every word. The set simply consists of the new album, played in its entirety with no chat until the very end, and then it’s just a short word of thanks.
There’s a woozy, R&B-inflected joy to the more low-key songs like their Love, today and he made. The darkness flooding the room increases the gothic intimacy as the audience takes it all in. One song sees the stage, and then the entire room, engulfed in smoke which gives a sense of confusion amidst the wonky electronics. During No Limit the piercing white lights emerge, flickering intensely and jolting the crowd out of their revery. 2 D I C U V is another highlight with its crunchy textures, raising the volume before the final couple of songs end the show on a reflective note.
It’s all done within 45 minutes, which may leave some feeling a little short-changed, especially when there are such brilliant songs from her previous two albums. However, seeing an artist committed to their music, looking forward rather than resting on laurels, is refreshing. But a quick encore of Ooo Never or Holding On wouldn’t hurt, would it?