Bat for Lashes at the Great American Music Hall, 6/13/09

by Raffi Youssoufian on June 19, 2009

The Great American stage dressed up fancy.  Thanks to Flickr user smazurov for sharing.

The Great American stage dressed up fancy. Thanks to Flickr user smazurov for sharing.

It’s pretty easy to see why this show was so sold out.  Bjork and Radiohead endorsements aside, people always seem interested by an artist who opens up a portal into a construct they can deeply explore.  Natasha Khan who is, Bat For Lashes, carries you into her songs in the same way an author submerges readers into the lush world of their own creation.  Full of fairies, birds, ghosts and howling wolves, her thoughtful and refreshingly imaginative music invites you into a world you’re not sure she discovered, envisioned, or simply grew up in.

The opener, Hecuba, was similar to a strange outfit you might find at a vintage clothing shop.  Totally out of leftfield, the arty and sparse duo invaded the stage with their beats and energy level at max power.  The singer with a Cesar mullet haircut all her own, shrieked, screeched, pogo-ed, and convulsed around, singing powerfully when she could catch her breath, while the other banged his two keyboards with more authority than most keyboards will generally allow.  Drawing multiple smiles from the crowd, I’m sure wherever David Byrne was, his ears were burning.

To keep us company in anticipation, Bat For Lashes indulged our wait for the show by lining the stage with various items, like a stuffed crow, two twin dolls, and countless things that shimmered in the lights.  Once the those lights were turned out, Natasha appeared in a chic checkered dress to countless cheers and “I love you”-s , modestly jumping into the set with “Glass,” where her stunning voice soared over the tribal pounding of the drums and layered electro-synth.  It was at that moment you realized that sometimes it just takes the right voice to transport you into another dimension.  Clearly in command of the music throughout the show, during songs like the hit “What’s A Girl to Do,” or delving into the haunting essence of “Sarah,” Natasha’s stage presence gave way to her shyer side, sometimes catching herself while dancing softly in the moment, or in opportunities to converse with the crowd.  She politely laughed when someone yelled out “I’d love to watch Karate Kid with you,” referring to the new single “Daniel,” but maybe she wasn’t there that night to discuss anything, after all, most storytellers don’t take questions.  Her confidence appeared to grow as she periodically moved to the safety of the keyboard/autoharp for renditions of her quieter songs, like the beautiful and heart wrenching “Priscilla.”

Being herself on stage still seems a fairly new concept to her, possibly because the previous tour featured much more of a costume element to it, giving her a place to hide if she wanted one.  But whether Natasha Khan is in the story herself or simply telling it, she has the uncanny ability of  tugging at your heart with her beautiful voice, while leading you down a trail somewhere in the woods, bringing to life all the characters, animals, and stars, that shine through each song the entire sparkling night.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

GeezrRckr June 23, 2009 at 9:19 am

Good review. Her voice and immense talent bodes well for the future. Psyched to see her again at OLF.


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