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Anna of the north

Cut-Glass Companionship: Anna of the North, Live in London

29 September 2017, 17:45 | Written by Joseph Foley

Omeara, a standing-room-only spot tucked away down a dour side-street in Insta-friendly Borough, is sold out. The doors creak open at the nod of a Bluetooth headset, and a steady stream of the capital’s beautiful people trickle in.

Because tonight, there’s a common denominator between the crowd of elegantly-wan minimalists, stubbly musos and aspirational West Londoners. Anna Lotterud has just dropped her debut album, and it’s gone down very well indeed.

Combining Lotterud’s soul-searching lyricism and the cut-glass production chops of Kiwi wunderkind Brady Daniell-Smith, Lovers is a tantalising prospect for fans of tasteful electropop. If I’m being completely honest, I had my reservations – the genre’s a buyer’s market right now, and on record the duo’s dreamy take on the form lacks some of the wonky punch that I love in, say, MØ, or Purity Ring.

They’re about 20 seconds in to the opener before I’m cursing myself, and not just because I’ve already blown a fiver on a child-size can of Moretti. Live, Lotterud is a radically different prospect to the detached entity you might reasonably expect to breeze out from between the clean lines and pastels that dominate her branding. As the wintry pads that conjure up "Oslo" give way to the cardiac thrum of the bassline, I’m already sold.

There’s a warmth to the music, to this performance, that isn’t done justice on record. Anna herself, clad in a massive orange coat ("she must be boiling", mutters a girl nearby, channelling some universal Nan-spirit) is irrepressibly present. Once she sets foot on Omeara's cluttered little stage, it’s all hers.

From the languid filter washes of recent single "Always", to the anthemic afrobeat clatter of tonight’s closer, "Fire", Lotterud works the crowd like an old pro, all imploring hand gestures and carefree smiles as she works her way across the boards.

Then again, she’s not short of inspiration: the bass in this room is a magnificent, curative thing, and as well as delivering a rumbling gravity to some of Anna’s neatest hooks, it accents the delicate layers of Daniell-Smith’s intricate production, without drowning them out. “Someone” - a stadium-ready banger blithely dropped in midway through tonight’s show - particularly benefits from this treatment, opening with a mighty crack of gated snare and powering on in to the biggest chorus of the set.

With all this in mind, there are a couple of moments in which the energy dips, and I feel as if the slickness of the live production sacrifices the dynamic personality of the track. “Feels” for example, with its slow layering of detuned chimes, seemed like it was on its way to somewhere bigger and better than its eventual destination. That was particularly frustrating, because Anna of the North can do low-key catharsis very well indeed. Old favourite “The Dreamer”, is a long, slow build that still feels gorgeously fragile even as the vocal is subsumed into a thick morass of synths and percussion, and tonight’s version of “Sway” - mercifully unmolested by the frat boy fist-pumping of its inevitable Chainsmokers remix - is a thing of delicate, undulating beauty.

Although this uber-polished set could feel a little chaste - with the notable exception of one-night-stand slow jam “Us” - Anna of the North had no troubling holding Omeara’s attention. If you’re looking for some companionship to warm you up as the nights draw in, you could do a lot worse than these two.

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