Iiris, pleasingly, comes across in concert exactly like she does on record. A pixie-ish force of nature, she's as quirky as Lady Gaga thinks she is, and as commanding of the audience's attention as Madonna used to be, before she stopped having fun and became a gymaholic.
The reason for last night's gig in Sinilind, Vaiko Eplik's cafe, bar and nightclub on Vana-Viru Street, was to launch "Chinaberry Girl", Iiris's new EP, a follow-up to 2012's "The Magic Gift Box", and a precursor to her going to study at Goldsmith's College in London.
The hall filled, quite close to the concert start time, with a huge crowd of mostly young women in their early 20s, a lot of them following Iiris's style cues, with coloured hair, vintage clothes, and comedy animal headgear (Iiris, in case you hadn't worked this out, LOVES cats). The men were predominantly the übercool skinny hipster dudes who make me feel like giving up bacon sandwiches - but this was a gig about inclusivity, the point being that, for 55 minutes, no-one felt left out, because everyone was part of the experience. Iiris is not a "detached" performer - she needs and encourages the support of the crowd, and perhaps fits in so well with her fans because she's just one of them, making the music she would want to listen to.
The first half of the set was what I'd perhaps expected to see, and was probably what the majority had come to see - a stampede of hip-hop flavoured techno-pop, with big siren-like choruses that are easy to learn and hard to forget. The best song from "Chinaberry Girl" came in this section - "Sapphire", which is impressive on record but takes on a whole new dimension in a live venue. It starts with drums that sound like Timbaland producing elephants on parade, with the kind of rap flow Nelly Furtado came up with for "Promiscuous", before insisting "keep your hands up!" to the crowd, and launching into a chorus that we can all sing along to, and a bass-and-cats'-mew break where everything, in a very good way, goes mental. It's very accomplished, but it also sounds like a singer-songwriter writing naturally and from the heart - it's to be hoped that she continues to write music this infectious.
It must have been a tough contest between that and the eventual choice, "Tigerhead" as the lead single from "Chinaberry Girl", and part of the second half of the concert, in which Iiris played some songs solo on the piano, showing true vulnerability, before welcoming back the band for some closing uptempo pop. "Tigerhead", the closing number, is a total change of pace from much of the first album, an anthem to empowerment and self-awareness that actually made me cry (it had been an emotional week). The old favourites, including "Gummybear", "Melyse" and "Weirdo" were also present and correct in their sparkling singalong glory.
Iiris genuinely loves her fans, and her fans love her back. My question, though, is what name her fans should have. Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters, J*stin B**ber his Beliebers - but Iiris fans, what would you like to be called? Tell us on our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages (links at the top), and the best suggestion will win a prize from me - and I'll make sure I ask Iiris to adopt the name for you!