On Monday evening, Christina Perri made a triumphant return to San Francisco, the first city ever to play her music on the radio, during a sold out show on her Head or Heart Tour.
Before Perri took the stage that night, affectionate couples and young teenage girls filled the Fillmore with whispers of bated excitement. YouTube and Vine sensation Tori Kelly opened the show as a last-minute addition to the bill, replacing Birdy, Perri’s opener for the previous and forthcoming dates of the tour. Screams scattered through the crowd as Kelly introduced herself in her soft-spoken and sweet tone — just a girl and her guitar, playing songs she wrote on her own. Her set started off quietly with the delicately plucked notes of “Rocket,” which were followed by the full-force, R&B-influenced strumming of “Eyelashes,” unleashing enough sass and sensuality to match her signature curly blond hair.
A few minutes after Kelly finished her set, the lights dimmed, and Perri took center stage, cloaked by a thick ray of outward-glowing white light. Her pure, clean voice pierced the silence as she tread delicately through the opening lines of “Trust,” the first song from her latest album, Head or Heart. Slowly, her band members entered through the darkness, taking their places behind their microphones and shocking the audience with flawless harmonization, awakening every sleepy face in the crowd. Suddenly, the band erupted into “Shot Me in the Heart,” the venue illuminated by Christmas-light drapery and soaring melodies and harmonies. Perri stood over the audience and reached her hand into the crowd, her eyes beaming and her hips swaying in time with the drums. She grabbed a tambourine and commanded the rhythm with a smile on her face, emanating a gypsy-rock vibe with every cadenced note.
Perri’s live show showcased two qualities that her recorded work fails to articulate: her love of storytelling and her energetic personality. Whether she is sitting behind the piano and revealing her inspiration for a heart-wrenching ballad such as “Butterfly,” (“This type of person likes very much to be chased but not to be caught … What the fuck?”) or waving her arms above the crowd like a conductor as the audience belts the words to hits such as “A Thousand Years” or “Jar of Hearts,” Perri’s show was surprisingly lively and vivacious, a contrast to the dark hits that are ascribed to her name.