Review and photos – Ella Vos at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Mar 22 2019.
– review by Julie Rankin, photos by Pavel Boiko
From the long flowing sleeves on her blouse to the diffuse glow of spotlights amidst the vapor of the smoke machine, the on-stage atmosphere for Ella Vos’ performance at the Biltmore Cabaret was certainly dreamy—a perfect accompaniment to her romantic lyrics. Opening with the tender, 2018 single “Ocean”, Vos’ dynamic vocals accentuated the mood as she gave an intimate performance to a small, but excited crowd.
Vos, an American singer-songwriter and pianist (AKA Lauren Salamone) came to Vancouver for the second stop of her North American tour. Her five-song EP, Watch and Wait was released in January, the first release following her 2017 debut album, Words I Never Said. Written while Vos was undergoing treatment for Lymphoma, Watch and Wait is a personal collection that resonated with the devoted fans gathered at the Biltmore.
Performing a mix of upbeat electro-pop as well as some more mellow ballads, Vos sang soulfully at her microphone with some dancing during instrumental interludes. A classically-trained pianist and former keyboardist for artist BØRNS, the singer also played piano on some tracks.
The shroud of backlight and smoke obscured most of the stage from view, but talented musician, Emily Moore, could be seen to Vos’ right. Moore provided backing vocals and played a selection of instruments from acoustic and electric guitar to percussion. Moore’s acoustic guitar playing brought a dynamic, folk element to some of Vos’ songs, such as the 2017 single “You Don’t Know About Me”.
Though a primarily polished show, an exuberant reaction from her fans did momentarily overwhelm Vos, and caused her to briefly forget the lyrics she was singing—an incident the happy singer handled with a laugh. Near the end of her set, Vos performed 2019 single, “Temporary”. A song she notes is a reflection on the words of encouragement she often received during her treatment and the result of a therapeutic writing process which fueled her to change her mindset to a more positive one.
While Vos noted how grateful she was to be there on stage, the crowd was even more grateful to have her. Audience members seemed moved and appeared to have their own personal connections to the intimate lyrics. The energetic dancing and singing along emphasized the connection and highlighted what Vos noted at the end of her inspiring performance, that we’re ‘speaking our truths together’.
To a small, early crowd, opener Clara Mae (AKA Clara Hagman) and accompanying keyboardist, Julia, performed a short selection of original electro-pop songs plus a slowed-down cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”. The Swedish singer-songwriter sang a stripped-back version of her collaboration with DJ duo Kream, “Taped Up Heart”, before ending her enjoyable set with an upbeat performance of her first single, “I’m Not Her”.