Anna Meredith @ The Hug and Pint, Glasgow, 17 May

Live Review by Duncan Harman | 23 May 2016

Pop arrives in many shapes and sizes – only sometimes it takes an outsider to point things out. Anna Meredith’s background may be in classical composition, yet by eloping with electronica (and an unconventional line-up; guitar, cello, tuba, keyboards, drums), she manages to celebrate the universality of pop music whilst adding something new to canon. Fresh from deservedly making the SAY Award longlist for debut album Varmints, tonight’s set features a playful and endearing energy, opener Nautilus – all broad chords and stabs of military brass – a statement of intent.

It also doesn’t sound exactly as it does on record; wider, perhaps, not afraid to drift toward dissonance when the mood takes, and certainly dancier (if the crowd is anything to go by). Such themes gift the evening with bounce, a sense of flight; recent single Taken loaded with baroque detail, the tuba all cunning arpeggios, Jack Ross playing guitar as if successfully auditioning for A Certain Ratio.

In fact, there’s definitely an allegiance to the 80s to all of this; from the wispy electronica of Something Helpful, Meredith’s vocal all fragile balance, to Dowager, which manages to sound like Russians by Sting, only good. Orchestral familiarity also plays a part, the instrumentation higgledy-piggledy yet pulling together into something that works on an instinctive level; by the time of the encore – Erasure’s A Little Respect (with deliberately unconventional chord progression), then a splendidly messy, tongue-in-cheek version of the Jennifer Rush power ballad The Power of Love – we’re utterly rapt.