Kelsey Lu is one of the most widely talented, multi-genre artist you’ll ever have the pleasure to watch perform live. Blurring the lines between R&B, indie and classical, it’s hard to label her under a single genre, but if there’s one thing you learn as you watch her set unfold, it’s that her musical identity is in fluidity. On Sunday, June 2, ‘Lu’ took the Opera House on a spellbinding journey of emotional connection.
The 200 capacity room made for a perfectly intimate setting to appreciate Kelsey Lu up close. Upon gracing the stage in dimly lit silhouette, she travelled straight to her cello in silence, effortlessly gliding her hands across the strings, making for a sonic and visual delight in her first moments. No words, just music. Her stage presence is haunting and powerful, almost angelic in many ways. With the spike of her cello firmly planted in the ground, there was nothing between you and the vibration of her instrument.
Kelsey Lu’s second song introduced soulful vocals, and the following tracks – accompanied by her pianist and then her drummer – built up from a more traditional, classical performance, to a jazzy, pop-infused space. I’m not sure if it was the wine or the musical journey (possibly both) but the crowd were at one with this process. Slowly but surely moving their heads as the set went on and the pace picked up.
In between songs during the set, Lu conversed about the Earth, Indigenous cultures and paid her respects to the traditional owners of the land. The connection between culture and nature was present as the night went on, through her soundscape of vocals and repeated guitar and cello loops.
At one point she pulled out a tarot card that frequently pops up in readings she does with herself and passed it around the room for the crowd to interact with. It was a small gesture, but one that suggested that connections here were on multiple levels.
Lu’s crowd interaction through the night was sincere, genuine and at times hilarious. She would often transform her softly spoken voice and put a vocoder effect over the mic, sounding like a robot and completely taking you by surprise.
Before performing ‘Due West’ she spoke candidly into the microphone – her voice soft, loving, grateful and honest. Touching on why the next song is so important to her and her journey that she’s on in discovering herself.
‘Due West’ almost seemed separate to the rest of the performance. It is arresting and powerful with more of an R&B/pop inflection, but equally as incredible as her previous songs.
Kelsey Lu takes the best bits of her classical background and creates a unique space where classical and modern elements coexist in harmony. By the end, her journey will leave you in awe, inspired by the power of her talent and applauding with the whole room.