Bat For Lashes

Support band, Sylver Tongue, are a special treat and, stylistically, seem the perfect support band tonight. They are multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Hatherley’s (ex-Ash) new band. Charlotte was also part of the Bat for Lashes touring band in 2009 . They seem to have gained great confidence and power since their gigs supporting School of Seven Bells, earlier this year, with Charlotte’s voice being particularly strong. The music is dreamy synth-pop of the best kind, though Charlotte also plays a bit of tasty guitar at times. The band still don’t have an album out, although an EP has just been released with tracks featured in tonight’s set.  The soaring and memorable song ‘Tender Gravity’ particularly stands out in their set, although it’s not on the new EP, but it can be found on You Tube.

Sylver Tongue

Sylver Tongue

Sylver Tongue

Right on time, Natasha Khan and her backing band enter a simply yet atmospherically lit stage, lanterns and angle photography lamps enhance rather than detract from her petite frame. The first song, of the evening, is Lillies which is the opening track from Bat for Lashes new album The Haunted Man. Instantly Khan’s vocal ability overwhelms you. She has a vast range which in its higher register has resemblances to Annie Lennox, not only in its tone but capacity to accurately hit the notes with such power and sensitivity. The stage has a selection of instruments, both acoustic and electric, situated at key points to allow Khan free reign to engage with the audience. Her physical movements are a visceral expression of the music that she and her band are creating, which remind me of Kate Bush as they are so appropriate and genuine. Glass allows the audience to feel the power of the bass which reverberates around the venue adding an increased depth to the concert which contrasts beautifully with the delicate piano introduction to Travelling Woman and the exquisite cello performance at the beginning of Winter Fields. Khan continues with the experimentation of pace and dynamics throughout the set, as Oh Yeah’s pounding beat resonates through the floor. The subtleties and layering within Bat for Lashes’ music require close monitoring and Natasha regularly communicates with the sound engineer to ensure that both those on and off stage get the best auditory experience.

Bat For Lashes

Bat For Lashes

The near-capacity audience are deeply reverent and engrossed in the performance, listening attentively and allowing the final note to finish before showing their heartfelt applause. Khan encourages the observant crowd to dance to her latest single, All Your Gold which has received plenty of airplay recently on 6 Music. After this track, my concentration starts to waiver slightly possibly due to my position in the venue or possibly as I am not a Bat for Lashes fanatic I have not fully embraced all of the complex and well-crafted clever levels that the majority of the audience have. However, Laura jolts me back to full consciousness with its simple beauty that demands utter silence throughout the venue. As the set draws to a close with Pearl’s Dream, Khan’s adeptness for lyrical writing is clear as she manages to construct vivid visual images through her use of words which are developed further by the music. Pearl’s Dream sees Natasha and the band reach a trance like state centre stage, playing the maracas like she is conjuring up a mystical invocation. The encore consists of The Haunted Man which sees Khan holding an old wireless aloft from which samples are playing and the grand finale of Daniel, which leaves everyone enraptured in her charming and entrancing spell.

Bat For Lashes

Bat For Lashes

Set List: Lilies / What’s a Girl to Do? / Glass / Travelling Woman / Winter Fields / Oh Yeah / All Your Gold / Marilyn / Horse and I / Horses of the Sun / Laura / Lumen / Prescilla / A Wall / Pearl’s Dream

Encore: The Haunted Man / Daniel

Bat For Lashes

Bat For Lashes

Gig review by John Bentley (Sylver Tongue) and Toni Woodward (Bat For Lashes)

Gig Photos by Bianca Barrett

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