Touring an album before it’s even been released is risky. Fans may be devoted to the few singles they already know but ultimately the issue of performing mostly unfamiliar material still exists, and with the release of debut album No Romeo pushed back to January this is exactly the uphill struggle you’d expect Indiana to have as she descends on Bristol’s Thekla. Yet before she’s even halfway through opening track ‘Calibrated Love’ it becomes clear there isn’t much to worry about, both the songs and her incredible vocals excel in carrying the set forward, and the night’s main disappointment is simply that she was only on stage for 45 minutes.
The unapologetic dark nature of her song writing is really allowed to reach full potential in a live setting. ‘Solo Dancing’ acting as the more venomous cousin of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own and the album’s title track quipping “Don’t cover me with roses/ Stolen kisses in the dark….I know who you are”. Occasionally things may dip towards the 13 year old emo side of things but there’s certainly no suggestion here that she should start doing up-tempo tunes, and the gloomy interior of Thekla only added to the atmospheric feeling of the night. It all acts as a night contrast to her stage personality, which is surprisingly shy and giggly. Some content behind some of those lyrics would have been nice, but she loosens up as the night continues, and it proves difficult not to love her lack of enthusiasm when leaving the stage for the encore.
Picking out the set’s highlight is difficult, but forthcoming single ‘Only The Lonely‘ deserves mention. It perfectly combines her atmospheric setting with a slightly more commercial synth sound. Elsewhere ‘Mess Around‘ tends to feel a little overcooked in studio form, but manages to translate brilliantly live, and of course ‘Solo Dancing‘ – arguably one of the finest pop singles of the year – is nothing short of spectacular. Yet while the album will almost certainly be worth the wait, it’s Indiana’s voice that makes the night such a success. She has a lower register that means business, and a falsetto to match. On the whole it’s difficult not to feel that expectations have been exceeded with Indiana. She reportedly only started singing 2 years ago, which surely makes it incredible that she’s already this good.
By Aled Einion