Eighties style icon and pugilist Grace Jones took Somerset House's outdoor stage back to the future with her vibrant parade of gravity-defying wardrobe selections, raunchy jokes and much-loved hits.
With a costume change for each song, Jones gave her audience exactly what they wanted: attitude, anthems, plenty of bass and a side serving of reverb.
Not, of course, that any vocal effects or electronic tweaking interfered at all with that gargantuan voice of hers – it soared to high notes, swooped back to the deepest cadences, and was eminently capable of purring, growling and shrieking in between. Opening with the rabble-rousing musket drumming of "Nightclubbing", she struck a pose on a raised platform in feathered headdress, corset and black leggings. Her devoted congregation whooped in recognition, and there was a sense of what life must have been like in the post-disco, retro-futuristic hedonism of New York and London's emergent clubbing scene.
The audience were a little flummoxed when, towards the end of the song, Jones disappeared from the stage (although her husky tones continued), before reappearing sans culottes, clad in a thong and pagoda-esque headpiece. Sartorial expectations were raised – and met – throughout, as Jones donned snoods, devil horns and even a conch-shell bonnet. The Jamaican-born high priestess of cool had a flamboyant showmanship often lacking at one-night-only summer gigs; her high-camp shenanigans – and a stage which included not only a revolving podium and a lap-dancer's pole, but also a wind machine – felt like a full-on tour show. When she closed the show with her disco classic "Pull up to the Bumper" cannons spewed gold confetti across the courtyard.
Such is Jones' image now, as an iconoclast, clothes horse and cultural symbol, that her music seems to take a backseat. This is perhaps no bad thing; the inclusion of some of her newer work (from 2008's Hurricane) highlighted its weaknesses alongside old covers, like Sting's "Demolition Man", and her classic reggae-fusion sound as on "I've Seen That Face Before".
To her devoted supporters, though, Jones can do no wrong. With her stylised vocals, other-worldly appearance and well-muscled haunches, she is breathtaking: a true entertainer in every sense.Reuse content