Karen O, Bush Hall, London: 'Raggedy, stripped back and personal'

Karen O delivers one of her most spellbinding sets to date

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The Independent Culture

Some musicians are magnetic because of their stage theatrics and raucous energy; others are enduring because they don't have to go to such lengths - their lyrics and vocals speak for themselves.

Karen O's London gig proved that she can do both adeptly.

While she is best known as a Yeah Yeah Yeahs punk hero, her debut solo album, Crush Songs, is a collection of short, lo-fi songs that are as raggedy and stripped back as imaginable, drawing on her experiences of heartbreak and loneliness. The intimate Bush Hall in Shepherd's Bush was an apt setting for such personal material and the audience was spellbound.

Each song was a poetic love letter with deceptively simple lyrics. Oscar-nominated “The Moon Song”, originally written for Spike Jonze's Her, was a delicately sung lullaby for adults.

The mood was reflective, although not always melancholic. In “Body”, the acoustics gave way to a rowdy instrumental and O's signature screaming vocals. Nor has she abandoned her punk principles, describing love as a “f*****g b***h” in “Rapt”.

As the gig edges towards its close, and she happily sings the words “my pain is gone”, it becomes apparent O has broached a new chapter both personally and professionally.

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