The weather outside London’s Waterloo station may have been bitingly cold, but Erika Footman cast a warming glow of the Vaults of Waterloo Station as she introduced her new album Onna-Bugeisha, on Thursday evening. Press and pledgers alike were kept in excited anticipation while the venue was prepared. Told as we went inside that we were to be ‘taken on a journey for the ears and eyes’, the mesmerised crowd were lead down dark passages and dimly-lit corridors, from the ceilings of from which hung Japanese lanterns and origami birds, which as you brushed past and touched them chimed with a variety of notes.
Having flirted in the past with the pop-rock genre and toured with both Mika and Skunk-Anansie, it is Erika’s self-proclaimed sound of ‘epic pop’ that makes up her first full EP worthy of the truly spectacular ‘interactive launch.’ Technical art and visuals play a big part in her repertoire, and her Japanese roots play a huge role in the themes of the music and interior decoration of the gig.
As we walked from room to room the attention to detail and way in which the music was presented and performed was noticeable. The experience of hearing sweet, uber-pop under the deserted arches and rumblings of the trains at Waterloo was a once in a lifetime experience.
The show started with a melodic performance of Maybe, which saw a favorable reaction from the crowd, mainly down to Erika’s sunny disposition and genuine humility at having a large crowd of excited guests. An impressive shamisen solo lead the crowd into another ‘vault’ and the interactive theme continued. The next vault, a blue lit, high ceilinged room created the perfect backdrop for the soulful choir-like rendition of Wonderful which awaited us. Asking the crowd to sing along, *hats off to most of them who could actually carry a tune* I would defy anyone not to be drawn in the by the vibrations of the trains above and the music below, the sight was something quite spectacular.
The second act of the night was a public gig, allowing for a larger, more powerful band and for everyone to fully appreciate the intensity and ferocity of Erika’s voice. The intimate setting allowed for plenty of audience interaction, and Erika’s joyful, exuberant nature was in full force by the middle of her second song. At time it’s surprising that someone with such a smooth, calm manner could be so different to her onstage persona. Her voice at its peak is reminiscent of a poppy Avril Lavigne and the energy she displays clearly comes from her more pop-rock roots.
Erika proved to be unlike any other artist by using a perfect mix of artsy theatrically and musicality to create a euphoric, hedonistic atmosphere everyone in the venue felt a part of. Dancers, sparklers, paper birds and Erika in beaded skirt attached to the audience (yes really) provided the climax of the encore. Erika has the ability to both absorb and adore her audience. It is difficult to find fault with her unique, creative outlook on her music. With her knack of quirky pop, it’s difficult to see her star doing anything but rise in the future.