Oh Fauxchella, how do I count the ways? While most of the world waits diligently to attend something overly populated with clutter, annoyance, and unwelcoming weather, the locally abounding intellects know you will be there for us. Engrossed entirely inside night four of eight, you gave me Bat For Lashes. While there were about seventeen other shows that night, none were more sincere than this one. So much so I’m sure the Great Pumpkin would have agreed.
While I may not be comparing Natasha Khan to a pumpkin patch, in an utmost elegance, I must say: she squashed it.
What did she squash you might ask? I was not sure from the beginning. A surprisingly simple stage set up of drums, keys, percussion, and cello left me questioning how this night was going to go. The only garish novelty present, were lanterns neighboring every band member’s station. Previous Bat For Lashes shows were lined with colorful, and meaningfully random decoration. Previous Bat For Lashes shows filled the air with intrigue and delightful magical mysterious dust, as if you were not sure whether Natasha was fully human or half mystical creature. (See my review from 2009).
After all, prior to the release of her album Haunted Man in 2012, she spoke about an intense writer’s block that affected her process. Purposefully I did not read too many articles, interviews, or reviews. I wanted to experience this album and tour individually and without prior context. But I couldn’t help but think if all of the turmoil she experienced could reflect into a subdued performance.
It didn’t help I was on night four of eight consecutive nights of concerts, and I couldn’t think of anything but my aching feet during the opener Nite Jewel. Better than regular Jewel? I might have to go with no. But once Natasha came out I forgot everything. Enrobed in a bright red dress with ruffles and fanned arms, (it was prettier than my description) this was a different girl, fully comfortable in her skin. Confident, interactive, making eye contact with members of the crowd, and smiling brightly, she seemed happy as could be. All former Natashas were squashed.
Fighting through a few sound issues during “Lilies”, (which were squashed) and a somewhat less enthusiastic “What’s a Girl to Do?” (It felt like she just wanted to get that out of the way), she took off her exuberant fanned accoutrement, and then started to let go starting with “Glass.”
–**This is by far my favorite Bat For Lashes song, but I did have an issue with this live performance. I did not care for the modern drum set that was used. They sounded utterly hollow. I can not say if the drummer had some fault as well. The booming toms on “Glass” were missing. I missed the warmer resonating tribal drum sensibility of her previous shows.**–
But it truly wasn’t until the fifth song, and second new song, “Oh Yeah,” where the sincere positive energy was in full radiating display. Not only could you see it, but you could feel it. The words “dancey, light, and playful” appear countless times in my notes. I can not express how much more fun the show was because she was having such a magnificent time freely dancing about the stage as if she were at the discothèque. It warms me to see someone exceedingly love what they do in life. And for the first time it seemed like she did.
Switching off to her keyboard for a few oldies like “Traveling Woman” or the autoharp for a faster “Priscilla”, it was the new songs that shined. As much as I love the first two albums, the new material was performed with much more heart and enthusiasm. I’m sure there are only so many times I could perform a song before it begins to get a little dull.
It seems the cover of “Haunted Man” features her naked, holding up a man over her shoulders that she appears to have hunted down, was truly apt, as she undressed in front of our eyes, squashing most insecurity, and showing us a true uninhibited Natasha. Unlike the Great Pumpkin, this was real.
2. What’s A Girl to Do?
4. Traveling Woman
5. Oh Yeah
6. All Your Gold
8. Horse & I
10. Siren Song
11. A Wall
13. Pearl’s Dream
1. Haunted Man