Austra - Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, Tue 5 Jun 2012
Crystalline headrush of swirling synths with voice centre stage
It will come as no surprise to anyone who has heard her group’s debut album, Feel it Break, that Katie Stelmanis’ stunning voice is central to the Austra live show. The Latvian-Canadian’s classical training is very much in evidence in the clear diction and formidable projection, balanced by a rawness and eccentricity at home in the synthy electro new wave territory her music inhabits.
Aesthetically, too, she is the star of the show, resplendent in a white silk dress and flowing gold sequinned jacket, shuddering and writhing to the music as if possessed, at the point of climax, or both. At times, with her arms outstretched, she resembles a puppet mistress directing the twin backing singers Romy and Sari Lightman, equally expressive in their movements on either side. If it all sounds a bit melodramatic, that’s because it is – but it suits the music, which is a crystalline headrush of swirling synths, urgent beats and magical keys, and all topped off with those gorgeous vocals. From a mournful wail to an operatic tour de force to an angelic hum, they steal the show, as is only right.