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Live Music Review Sensational Sevdaliza puts the politics into pop

Sevdaliza
Barbican, London

IRANIAN-DUTCH experimental pop singer Sevdaliza has been carving herself a musical niche since the release last year of impressive debut album ISON and she's currently touring off the back of latest EP The Calling.

Sevdaliza, who once played for Holland's national basketball team, is a commanding presence on stage from the moment she struts out in the first of many couture-inspired outfits.

Her live shows are very much a multi-media concern — occasionally she sings to an onstage camerawoman who projects her face onto giant shard-shaped projector screens at the back of the stage, with a dancer complementing Sevdaliza's own moves with gymnastic poses.

Not one to shy from politics, Sevdaliza's music deals with feminism and women's rights on Amandine Insensible, while her Farsi-sung Bebin is a reaction to Trump's Executive Order 13769 — the Muslim travel ban.

Proving that pop music can be more than just a catchy tune, she reaches tremendously powerful highs that rattle the Barbican's acoustic. Elsewhere, her singing style evokes Portishead's Beth Gibbons and her sui generis has nods to genres as far-flung as trip-hop, R&B, pop and electronica.

Tonight's performance marks the end of a particularly busy period that has seen her touring extensively for the last two years, performing across the length and breadth of Europe, Russia, China, Australia and the US.

A deserved standing ovation from the entire Barbican hall brings her close to tears.

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