Grace Jones @ Birmingham Symphony Hall – 19th January 2009

Posted by Bianca on Monday Jan 19, 2009 Under Alternative

Grace Jones

I have limited knowledge about Grace Jones; it is restricted to two tracks from the ’80’s, A View to a Kill and the infamous Russell Harty incident.  However, curiosity and intrigue got the better of me so I headed off to Symphony Hall last night to see what a 60 year old iconic image from the ’80’s can offer?

The support band were a trio called Trybez (pronounced tribes not Try Bez as first thought) and they began their set with a didgeridoo solo.  Trybez sang and rapped in a selection of languages with a live drum beat plus a backing track, all of which seemed to be 10 years out of date.  The female vocalist could give Beyonce a run for her money in the arse shaking department, which had amusement value whilst the other vocalist was entertaining purely for wearing trousers made famous by MC Hammer.  The MC’s lyrics flowed and he was by far the most accomplished member of the band. I was confused as to why Grace Jones had chosen such a band as a support act and then Paulo, the MC, announced that he’s Grace’s son and suddenly it all made sense.  Their music was completely unmemorable and I just didn’t get it; however the half hour set did go quickly because their eclectic dance moves kept me chuckling but I don’t think Bez’s maracas would have been that out of place.

TRYBEZ

After a short interval, Symphony Hall began to fill up in preparation for the headline act, Miss Grace Jones.  Since I was a child, I have always been slightly scared of Grace Jones so I was a bit worried about sitting near the end of a row just in case she decided to leave the stage at any point.  Anyway, putting my fears to one side I awaited Jones’ entrance on stage, which was fashionably late but fashionably great.  As the lights went down, the band launched into the track Nightclubbing, when Grace appeared on top of a mechanical platform, wearing a striking head dress, looking fabulous and sounding even better.  Symphony Hall is renowned for its superb acoustics and this was demonstrated within the first few minutes.    She continued with the track This Is, taken from her latest studio album Hurricane, which also sounded great.  That woman ruled the stage, she oozed power and fierceness, the like of which I have never seen or felt before.  This strength permeated throughout the whole performance, yet her interaction with the audience was humorous and friendly.  Jones’ basic costume was a black corset, a black thong, fishnets and black stilettos, and after every track she left the stage, to change her head attire and jacket, but this did not prevent her from continuing to converse with the audience and keep our interest.  With every entrance back on to the stage and new head dress, you were reminded of a famous picture of Grace Jones, demonstrating how visually influential she has been over the years.

Grace JonesGrace Jones

She proceeded to perform My Jamaican Guy, Sunset Sunrise, followed by Libertango.   During Libertango, Jones decided to sing in front of an industrial fan with pieces of tape attached, needless to say some of the tape getting tangled up in her head dress causing the singer to shout for help whilst continuing to perform like the professional she is.  As the set continued the audience became more involved, unfortunately restricted by the venue being seated.  However, as Grace launched into La Vie en Rose, everyone embraced the mood, rose to their feet and rushed into the aisles. Meanwhile Miss Jones took to someone’s shoulders and paraded through the crowd, shaking hands with people as she went, she walked just by me and I am pleased to report she wasn’t at all scary.  All too soon the set was reaching it’s conclusion, with the classic Pull Up to the Bumper. This is a fantastic track at the best of times but seeing it live was awesome, heightened by explosions of ticker tape as Miss Jones, yet again, moved amongst the crowd.

Grace Jones

The encore consisted of  her cover version of Love is the Drug, which saw Grace wearing a mirrored hat whilst standing under a solitary laser beam causing light to be reflected throughout the hall .  This was followed by Slave to the Rhythm in which Jones hula hooped for the entire song, not a mean feat especially when she was walking around introducing her wonderful band.  At this point the atmosphere was fantastic and I was utterly in love with her.  Unfortunately, Grace decided to play the title track of her new album, Hurricane, which deflated the ambience slightly.  Despite the final moment, Grace Jones left the stage to massive applause and appreciation which was well deserved.  I was left feeling in awe of a 60 year old that looks that fantastic, sounds that fantastic and is still making fantastic music.  Grace Jones is one of the most talented and powerful women I have ever had the privilege to see perform live.

Review – Toni Woodward

Photos – John Mason

One Response to “Grace Jones @ Birmingham Symphony Hall – 19th January 2009”

  1. steve Says:

    I quite enjoyed the dynamism of the support act, and Grace was magnificent .. I’ve posted a few of my own shots of both bands at http://www.rocklens.com

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