Soap&Skin at the Purcell Rooms
What an absolutely incredible, wonderfully dark, astounding, BRILLIANT show. Gush gush gush.
The Purcell Rooms in the Southbank Centre was a well suited venue for the show. It was small and intimate, seated, and had good lighting/smoke capabilities and sound.
19 year old Anja Plaschg is so completely fascinating. She has that air of mystery that reminds me of Karin from The Knife/Fever Ray. During the course of the show she says barely anything. I kind of imagine her living in an Austrian castle guarded by wolves that shoot lightning from their eyes. Anyway…
It was Anja alone, playing the beautiful Steinway piano with lillies and incense decorating the stage. It was dark apart from the white spotlight on her, and some eerie smoke being blown around. She has such a beautiful voice and sings with so much intensity. The piano parts are gorgeous and the strings and sound effects (controlled by Anja via Macbook) are so atmospheric and captivating. She eased into the show. It gradually got more and more intense. Thanantos was mind blowing. The keys and the vocals just crash over you. She played some new songs which sounded magnificent. Spiracle was as wonderful as I had hoped, with the passionate, haunting shrieking and the painful cries of ‘please help me, please help me, please help me’
I completely lost track of time during the show. Perhaps it was two thirds of the way through the performance when all the lights went out. It was completely dark. Anja was wearing black. She came to the edge of the stage and jumped down into the front row, right in front of me. Suddenly the lights turned red and she walked along the front row, hopped back on stage and began shaking the smoke machine before wandering through the seated audience shouting and howling.
Then, returning to the piano as if nothing happened, she continued to play. I had a giant grin on my face; it was genius. She was magnificent. It was so special and… so dark! Haunting. Just listening to the lyrics alone, it’s all pretty dark and harrowing. There’s a jarring dichotomy between the gorgeous, innocent-sounding piano and her vocals, and the frightening lyrics and theatrics.
She ended the set coming to centre stage and singing into the mic. The sounds completely envelop you. It’s hypnotic and enchanting. She left the stage to huge cheers and returned through the curtain for an a’cappella encore in German. Taking a low bow and curtsey she disappears again.
An absolutely stunning show. An extremely talented performer, there wasn’t a single lull in the set. Go see her perform if you get the chance. Lovetune For Vacuum is one of my favourite records of the year… and I suspect there will be much more greatness yet to come from Anja Plaschg.