Canadian composer and violinist Owen Pallett, otherwise known as Final Fantasy, performed on Friday (7th Jan) night to a sold-out audience at the Esplanade Recital Studio, blowing them away by demonstrating his skill with the violin and excellent arranging of the strings, vocals and keyboards.

The audience was an interesting lot, made up of casual and diehard fans, foreigners, hipsters, and curious music lovers, mostly young adults. The audience even seemed slightly unsure as how to behave at such a performance that could neither be classified as classical, pop or indie. Curiosity was an overwhelming palpable feeling before the gig for the audience, as everyone was interested to see exactly how his songs could be brought to life in front of them.

That question was answered when he opened with Cn Tower Belongs To The Dead, using a loop pedal, and won the audience over from the very start with his impressive performance. The first half of the performance was made up of songs from his first two albums under the name Final Fantasy, Has A Good Home and He Poos Clouds, such as That’s When The Audience Died and This Is The Dream Of Win and Regine. There were clearly longtime and diehard fans in the audience, as many seemed disappointed when he announced that he would be moving on to tracks from his latest release, Heartland.

He continually made an effort to engage the audience, even inviting the audience to come forward, which was a refreshing change from the usual formal sit-down performance at various Esplanade venues. Some of the audience took up his offer and proceeded to sit on the floor in front of him, which made the gig much more intimate and informal.

The most popular track was Lewis Takes Off His Shirt, which was pretty obvious from the cheering from the audience. The other half of his performance was just as enjoyable, or even more so, with tracks such as Keep The Dog Quiet, Lewis Takes Action, The Great Elsewhere and E Is For Estranged keeping the audience enraptured, as with the four tracks he performed during the encore.

The audience clearly had nothing but praise for him by the end of the performance, which is no surprise considering his unique and innovative use of the violin for the melody, bass and percussion. It is also notably difficult to perform his songs live, with the constant recording of various components and sounds through the loop pedal, building it up to a climax by the end of the track. Though we are barely into 2011, I am certain this will be one of the most memorable performances of the year.

(Melissa Ng)

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Picture by Jonathan Kwa.