LIANNE LA HAVAS
The Famous Spiegeltent, Hyde Park, January 19
Reviewer's rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ONE would think there would be little room for a voice as big as Lianne La Havas's in a packed Spiegeltent on the hottest day Sydney has ever had.
The English soul and folk singer could barely fit her white tutu and electric guitar on the tiny stage, which in turn seemed to challenge her to hit the soaring highs and gravelly lows of which she is capable.
Yet La Havas tempered herself beautifully in the intimate space, where every hiccup was amplified and there were no smoke and mirrors to hide behind.
The title track from her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough, was an early climax with its roaring, off-beat indie guitars and cutesy lyrics, but from then on in it was tender and soulful acoustic material on just an electric guitar or quiet piano.
She slowed the tempo to a seductive drawl and curled her voice perfectly around the gentle ups and downs of Don't Wake Me Up and the rainy-day laziness of Elusive.
La Havas, 23, showed a mature understanding of restraint and release that belied her relative inexperience. She has been singing since she was seven yet only released her debut album last July and is still doing the rounds in tiny British bars.
With Forget, it must have been tempting to let rip on a song about hate and ex-boyfriends, yet even with two bandmates playing clashing '90s guitars behind her, she mastered tantalising subtleness and self-discipline.
The second stage to the break-up was Gone, a hypnotic, piano-led lullaby with big lyrics that seeped under your skin and rendered you still.
There was no room to move in the sweltering Spiegeltent but La Havas beautifully filled each tiny gap.