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Concert Review: Imogen Heap

Imogen Heap
Imogen Heap

In what fast became probably the worst day of my life to date as my life continues to come crashing down around me, the same could be said for Imogen Heap’s Roundhouse show to cap off her Reverb festival. What began as an endearing and charming series of technical problems slowly became an awkward strained and frustrating performance that completely hid the many talents of Imogen Heap.

After a delay and an intriguing but completely unmusical opening act of Leafcutter John whose lightbox and musical creature was intriguing but put to no musical effect at all, Imogen’s delayed start then began as a “ooh, technical hitch” and a run of issues with her microphone, equipment, the gloves – anything that could go wrong would. Each time she tried a new song, the same issues would crop up and at the beginning it was funny. I commented to the person I had taken along that the gig could pass as a comedy show as Imogen genuinely entertained the audience with everything bar her music for about half her stage time early on. However towards the end humour turned to stress and the visibly upset Heap began to apologise profusely as a culmination of pregnancy, festival organising and biting off more than she can chew were sited as an issue. She had our sympathy and the crowd were on her side but when she began talking about not having a soundcheck,  changing everything at the last moment and such like, there came a change in the tide. I could hear audience members sighing and wanting to hear the next track and not another minute of issues. It felt like I’d paid £75 to go to a practice session where nothing had worked, everything fell apart and neither audience nor performer were happy.

It’s a terrible shame because when it worked, it was amazing. The string quartet, once they were able to work out what Heap was doing, really added a beautiful element to many songs and the choir rendition of “The Listening Chair” was phenomenal and ingenious. They should have stayed on for Earth too but that wasn’t on the set list. The set list that was missing four tracks too because of the faffery of technical issues.

I respect and love Imogen Heap’s music but I genuinely do not think I will ever go to see her live ever again and if I were, I’d make sure it was at the end of a tour so that the technical issues are ironed out. At the end of a nearly vocal-less “Xizi She Knows” she said to the crowd “lesson learned”. I just wish she didn’t have to do it in public and cost me so much money to do so.


  1. You describe it perfectly Simon, unfortunately. IH should have spent less time trying to prep and finesse the use of the gloves and more on the ‘bigger picture’ of delivering a satisfying gig to her audience. It wouldn’t have been so bad if this wasn’t an echo of what she did at the Roundhouse in Oct 2006, when her Mac broke down and we had to wait 30-45 mins for her to reboot. (I thought you were a little harsh on Leafcutter John, though – he was quite refreshing – but please, LJ, give over with the ‘what shall we do next’ approach!) Oh – and Tim Exile and the choir in the bar earlier – brilliant!

    1. I think the problem I had with Leafcutter John for me was that whilst it was a technical marvel, it felt all technical and no musical soul. The gold track was the highlight but highlighted my issue too because an engineer or a mathematician would have been delighted but my ears did not enjoy it much. I can see its appeal though!

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