When Christina Perri walks onto the stage at Headliner’s Music Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, she has everyone’s attention. There’s nothing extraordinary about this; she’s the one everyone came to see. What is astonishing though, is the way she not only keeps the entire room’s interest throughout the evening, but continually draws them in with nothing more than her voice and presence. When it comes to our 20-something pop stars, we’re used to fireworks, costumes, and shiny objects supplementing the main event. When someone takes the stage with real talent and poise that you can feel and hear, it tends to fascinate you more than you realize.
Perri’s breakout happened in 2010 before she was even signed when her tragic single “Jar of Hearts” unexpectedly took off. Quickly scooped up by Atlantic Records, she hit the studio last year to record her debut album Lovestrong which debuted to mixed reviews. Unable to fully capture the personality, emotion, and raw talent that make Perri special, Lovestrong did little to win over the skeptics, but attracted a flock of listeners looking for more “Jar of Hearts”-like numbers. Fortunately, the buzz has created enough of a stir to draw people into the element where she truly excels—her live performance.
Perri bursts onto the stage with her band for her opening track “Bang Bang Bang” with immediacy and purpose. Smiling wide as she plays guitar and sings, Perri appears as though she’s making eye contact with everyone in the room. Some people have the poise and ability to step up to a microphone and grab the attention of everyone within earshot. Christina Perri is one of those people. Throughout her set, she’ll play rocked out tracks with her band and stripped down songs featuring only her and an acoustic guitar or piano.
While her full band songs certainly have kick, Perri is at her best when she’s laying it all bare with no one behind her. While playing a newly written track titled “Run”, the audience is astonished not only by her soaring vocals, but by her heart-on-her-sleeve emotion that can’t easily be held back during the performance of a song so fresh. Likewise, her hit “Jar of Hearts” feels just as authentic, even as the crowd sings along with every word. She’s also able to find a comfortable middle ground between her louder and softer tracks with enjoyable tracks like “A Thousand Years”, her contribution to last year’s Breaking Dawn soundtrack, and her newly released single “Distance”.
You get the impression from watching Christina Perri that she really enjoys every moment she has in front of the microphone, not wanting to take even one opportunity to shine for granted. This is a good thing, considering that if her ability is harnessed in the appropriate manner, she has a long career ahead of her. While she’s still short of some of today’s grander divas like Adele, she’s head and shoulders above the quagmire of most current radio pop stars in both talent and aplomb. The biggest question is how well that talent and poise can be translated onto tape and whether the personality that makes Perri so genuine can shine through all of her songs and not just a few. Chances are, it’s going to happen and likely sooner than later.