London W1 Criterion Theatre
The Massive Attack menace of openerr 'Outside' hardly prepares you for the insipid Beverley Craven-isms...
Will the real Astrid please make herself known? For most of this gig, the ex-Goya Dress singer seems to be suffering from a personality crisis. First we get Baby Astrid, the one who responds to a punter’s drunken bawl of, “We love you Astrid!” with a sincere, “Well, that’s nice.” The one who hides behind her stylishly tousled hair like a more pouty version of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. The one who asks for [I]our[/I] permission to do an encore.
Then, of course, there’s Scary Astrid, who pulls off a competent enough Alanis impression on ‘I Am The Boy For You’, while flashing ambiguous eyes. This Astrid is rarely convincing. She’ll sing with a seemingly cathartic abandon or attack her harmonica like Bob Dylan… and then the song ends and all she can muster is inaudible, embarrassed small talk.
Her songs are just as frustratingly schizophrenic: the Massive Attack menace of opener ‘Outside’ and the country-pop rush of ‘Hozanna’ hardly prepare you for the insipid Beverley Craven-isms of ‘If You See The Man’ or the slick Sheryl Crow sophistication of ‘Someone’. The transition Delores Cranberry made from a sweet, soulful siren to objectionable MOR screamer is made by Astrid time and again over the course of an hour, but she never commits to either personality. Trying to empathise – or even engage – with this baffling, coquettish figure is like… well, like trying to decide who’s your favourite Spice Girl.