Anna Meredith’s concert at the Southbank Center was a heart-racing electro-symphonic fix, with an untamed and sophisticated mixture of harmony and chaos, complemented by hypnotic visuals. The concert, a mosaic of classical, pop, rock and electronica, featured new arrangements from the artist’s acclaimed debut album Varmints, with Southbank Sinfonia playing alongside Meredith’s band.

Meredith’s whirlwind music is feral and wild like the creatures that lend its name to the album. It is also wicked, bold and fun, with rivulets of gentle introspection and ferocious truculence running through it. The mood was set from the start with the fierce Nautilus, reminiscent of Nyman and Jarre, a pulsating track that increased relentlessly, aggressive and ceremonial at once. Mid-song, percussions appear, as unexpected as they are perfect. The end song, Blackfriars, was a lament  that managed to capture the elusive feeling of being lost in time.

One of the central joys of seeing this live performance consisted in seeing Anna Meredith beating her drumsticks with uninhibited child-like intensity, a glassed-in set of drums to her left and the orchestra to her right. Yet she pays homage to a vast trove of influences in a deeply personal way. The music feels free and unfettered, but it is also deep and intelligent, replete with fragments of familiar genres and tempos, mixed and juxtaposed in unfamiliar and unexpected ways.

The concert, which included a couple of new songs, gripped you without letting you go. It subverted expectations while somehow hitting the spot exactly. It was fun, exhilarating and electrifying. Anna Meredith will play Varmints with Southbank Sinfonia on August 11th at the Edinburgh International Festival.

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