Bat For Lashes
D.M StithEdit this event
- Somerset House, London »
The crowd sitting on the block-paved courtyard of Somerset House reflects Bat For Lashes' ever-widening appeal. Someone who can shift 80,000 units is clearly going to attract her fair share of those middle-class, middle aged Radiohead listener types but this is not a criticism of any of the above. Two Suns is just a fantastic album that sold a chunk of copies because people liked it. There's not much more to it than this. People bemoan the days of the 'credible mainstream' but this is a woman who should be, and is becoming (perhaps slowly), every bit the superstar she deserves to be.
The performance of the ghostly D.M Stith is met with mostly mild appreciation. He was hand-picked by Khan for this show and she clearly has incredible taste - I've said as much before. The setting tonight does him no favours but his half-hour set is more than enough for a few mumblings of “yeah, this guy's pretty good, huh?” to emerge from those standing adjacent to me. Yeah, he was, despite that horrible clangy newly strung acoustic guitar sound which always seems to come across in events this size.
The chosen backdrop, it has to be said, is reminiscent of a Mighty Boosh set. Likewise, the get-up that the lead lady wears: It's a catsuit, with two foot long tassels dangling from the arms. But there's nothing comedic about anyone in front of the moon-cum-sun curtain that hangs at the rear of the stage. Charlotte Hatherley is looking less and less like a teenage goth nowadays (the image that she seemed to stick with Ash, circa 2001). Hatherley's job tonight seems pretty easy; mostly playing guitar – it's hardly the most prominent thing here – and occasionally standing up, chiming some miniature cymbals or beating a bass drum lying on its side every few seconds. Still, she does it well, but we aren't here to watch Miss H – Khan is centre stage, or she should be, it's hard to tell with all these fucking umbrellas poking in my bastard eyes.
She dances about on stage like a giant bird, white tassels flapping from her forearms, frequently apologising for the rain – I think we are certain that it is not her fault – whilst some embrace the rain fully, perhaps enjoying the dampness more than Khan's enchanting soundtrack to the water falling on heads, shoulders and, in some cases, knees and toes. Her range is, at times, utterly spectacular. Never does she go so low as some husky women, but the heights she reaches in opener 'Glass' are unbeatable as the jingle jangle of percussion and mystical lyricism warms our hearts. It's also where she sounds the most like Miss Bush. “They say for every high, high, for every high there must be a low” is aptly sung on the 'Sleep Alone' with a bassline that throbs, almost in time to the thunder and lightning above. The words that echo from her mouth are bare – there are no fancy embellishments or vocal ornaments a la Florence.
Encore? Yes please, Natasha. An extra delivery of four songs by which time the rain had briefly stopped sees all but one solitary umbrella folded, faces wet but beaming, hair bedraggled and bare arms glistening under Somerset House's lights. Sitting down for 'Priscilla', a few join in the lamenting chorus, “hairy arms” getting in the way of the autoharp. Cheers materialise after Khan's call to join in on the vocals for 'Daniel'. We do. She stops. The rain starts. Come back, Natasha, come back please.
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