Anne-Marie @ o2 Institute, 19 March 2018

With “Rockabye” reaching 1.7 billion views on YouTube, a special bond of creation was needed to challenge it. With 2018 on the horizon, Anne-Marie is on tour in Birmingham promoting her new track “FRIENDS” and solo debut album “Speak Your Mind.” A helpful tweet from Anne-Marie notified us that she would be on stage 3 minutes before stage time. A good omen for a brilliant young singer.

The band appeared first, providing a synth-pop Soft Cell intro then the drum beat changed and out skipped the very agile Anne-Marie to the stage. Dressed in a white canvas jacket and trousers, that could be a nod to her Karate career, “Cry” was the opener, which is apt if you were to receive a Kin Geri. Being honest was the main theme of the evening as the amount of swearing was comical but quite invigorating to hear. “You’re Such A Mother F*****.” The singing was honeyed but not too sweet and soon balanced out by the Karate moves in “Do It Right.”

“Heavy” was so unlike its title, “When did it get so heavy?” was the lightest song of the set. A care free ballad about a relationship gone sour, sung back by the audience. The next song “Karate” took you into a futuristic digital world where you were now Jin from Tekken or scrolling through the menu on Need For Speed. The dance choreography was intensifying and there was little let up as the song changed to “Gemini” from the Karate EP “You pushed my buttons too far lately.” The SFX were brilliant and really created a specialist sound and reminded me of the cash register in MIA’s “Paper Planes.”

The 26 year old told us she wanted to refrain from just writing about bad boyfriends, so created a track about her insecurities “Perfect.” It is such a vulnerable sentimental song yet sounded so familiar. Singing with just the piano and guitar, Anne-Marie’s singing was effortless. Even more impressive that she sang it lying down! The flamboyant pianist quickly swapped keyboards to a synthesizer along with strove lights for “Alarm.” The band and gyrating keyboard player were pivotal to keep up the energy. He really knew how to move his hips!

“That won’t fix it any quicker, we don’t have to pull the trigger!” “Trigger” kept the energy flowing as a wig was thrown on stage. Anne-Marie didn’t put it on but placed in handily on her personal drum. “Used to love you” was like Rita Ora was on stage and was the quiet before the encore. With an arm signal and “Let’s do it” from Anne- Marie, the orange glare from the start of the show was back. For all the single moms struggling “Rockabye” was the first of the encores, which didn’t really need Clean Bandit as all the original orchestral instruments were dropped in using MIDI and SFX. I liked the chorus with the alternating synthesizer and guitar sounds.

After leaving the stage for a few minutes the green lights started to rotate around the Institute. Time for the encore. A deafening bass drum and African rhythm introduced “Ciao Adios” and “Then” “Your Gonna Miss Me.” We certainly are going to miss you Anne-Marie and your exquisite vocal power. “FRIENDS” finished off the show, a song about the devastation of being friend zoned. In my opinion the song came just in time as it is will help give Anne-Marie the recognition she deserves as an extremely talented singer and songwriter.

Reviewer: John Kirby

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