Nina Persson has often been deemed the heroine of “coldhearted warm pop.” This ironic phrase sounds almost acrimonious to describe someone as iconic as Persson. It was only after attending her show at World Cafe Live that I could truly understand that term. Persson is fearless. She is a woman who can do it all — she led The Cardigans to international acclaim with her recognizable vocals, she worked as a solo artist, released two albums with Nathan Larson as A Camp, followed that up with her first solo album “Animal Heart,” and also got married and became a mother between all her musical endeavors.
On the night of April 13, Persson proved that she really is a jack of all trades. The show was opened by White Prism, an electropop delight with Lenka-lookalike frontwoman Johanna Cranitch. It was the perfect opening act for Persson’s galactic performance that was to follow. With Cranitch’s husky, ethereal vocals and peppy songs like “Graceless,” “Play Me, I Am Yours” and “Leather Streak,” she proved to be a commendable opening act.
After her performance, Cranitch re-emerged at the keyboard, this time with the Swedish pop queen by her side. Persson had an inexplicable mystique surrounding her. The moment I saw her, I could sense a certain boldness in her. Clad in gothic attire with a tiny Harley Quinn-like hat adorning her blonde hair, Persson looked like a ringleader ready to whip her band into action. As soon as she hit the stage, she had the place swaying to her music. Nina and her persons (pardon my inane puns) played songs like “Animal Heart,” “Food for the Beast,” “Dreaming of Houses” and “Burning Bridges for Fuel” from her solo album, “Animal Heart.” Her brief career as a solo artist made her play more music from her previous project, A Camp, including songs like “Charlie, Charlie,” “Bear on the Beach,” “Frequent Flyer” and “I Can Buy You.” I felt a special connection to Nina, especially when she dismissed her lack of correct pronunciation and defended it by saying that she “is a foreigner.”
There was nothing too exceptional about the event, except the lively music and the show’s intimacy. I got to sit down at a candlelight dinner and order food. But what made it better was Persson’s dramatic performance that accentuated her dreamy, high-pitched voice. Later into the night, she did a spectacular job seguing from one song to another while showcasing her musical prowess. At one point, she even played the harmonica while performing “I Can Buy You.”
While none of her current music is said to be comparable to the acclaim that The Cardigans and singles like “Lovefool” achieved, Persson has come a long way. She has established herself as an immensely talented artist with innumerable singles, worked with the Manic Street Preachers and even acted in a documentary. Here is a woman who really knows what she wants and gets it. The music industry needs more icons like Persson, but I doubt that anyone except herself exists.