Thursday 5 December 2019

Review of Christina Perri live at the Olympia, Dublin

Christina Perri
Christina Perri
Head up: Christina Perri has a few quality tunes on Head or Heart but eventually runs out of steam and the album is a little too slight
Christina Perri

Ed Power

She may (almost) share a surname with pop juggernaut Katy Perry, but Christina Perri is an altogether different stripe of chart siren.

Unconventionally pretty, with Hells Angels tattoos and a ferocious grin, she is a self-made star who penned her break-out hit, ‘Jar Of Hearts’, while waitressing at a pokey Los Angeles diner.

That song made Perri an international sensation, drawing attention to her soaring voice and facility for big booming hooks. In concert, there was an additional attraction: the singer’s flinty charisma filled the room so that even when her mash-up of pop and rock was forgettable (as it sometimes was) sheer, home-spun likeability won you over.

Before an overwhelmingly female audience, Perri came across as a big sister who has suffered the slings and arrows of rubbish boyfriends and lived to tell the tale. Mostly she sang about ‘boys’ – cads who broke her heart, left her high and dry, weren’t there when she needed someone. If she wasn’t on stage rocking out, you picture her in her bedroom, hugging an oversized teddy and mooning at pictures of her ex. She is a Dawson’s Creek closing montage made flesh.

Behind the stereotypes, though, you sensed genuine hurt. Perri suffered a painful boom-and-bust romance last year: one moment she was blissfully in love, the next the whole thing was over and all she had was a broken heart.

Still, there was an upside: halfway through assembling her latest album, she suddenly had a lot to get off her chest. To her credit the new songs are not spiteful or recriminatory; ‘Head Or Heart’ is not one of those break-up LPs where the other party gets it in the neck. Rather it chronicles a time of pain and loss with an upbeat ending – if Perri can get through something like this, was the implicit message to her teenage fans, so can they.

Jumping enthusiastically, Perri was a typhoon of energy. Radiating girl-next-door bubbliness, she cycled through a selection of skittish grins and explained she was suffering an onslaught of nerves (a sold-out Olympia was more than she could bear). She showcased her rasping delivery on ‘Distance’ and her talent as a balladeer on new songs ‘Burning Gold’ and ‘Human’.

But it wasn’t long before hecklers were calling for ‘Jar Of Hearts’ – when she duly obliged and performed the smash, the collective shriek threatened to drown out the tune’s tidy pop-rock. As with much of her repertoire, the lyrics sometimes mistook insight for cliche  – but her charm was endless and it carried the day.

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