All music is a journey, but the audience at this show truly were transported to somewhere dark and enchanting. After the surprisingly strong support act, folky Leeds singer-songwriter Paul Marshall, who was accompanied by a female double-bass player and whose deft guitar picking was reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez, a ghostly white apparition drifted on to the stage. The previously quiet crowd roared in rapture and expectation at the entrance of Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes.
From the beginning, Khan was magnetic (as were the Blue Dreams, her backing band, whose male members were dressed as bats and the females as forest-dwelling creatures), wearing a white gown bathed in green, blue, red and yellow lights. On "Horse and I", the second number, Khan's voice soared and wailed, while the song's simple keyboard rhythm helped to establish an eerie mood. The military beat of Alex Thomas's drums kicked in alongside the saw-playing by the violinist, Katherine Mann.
"The Wizard" was another highlight, with Khan, as she spun her story, gliding purposefully in her moccasin slippers, extending her hands and playing charms, her voice reminiscent of Tori Amos. Mid-song, she drifted to the back to play percussion, all the while chanting intensely, while Mann exchanged her violin for clarinet.
"I Saw a Light" was transcendental. The mantra of "I saw a light/ I saw a light/ Coming through the trees" built to a climax with the phrase "death in your arms", as the drums beat powerfully and Khan's vocals exploded. She then introduced some new songs, one of which captured the spirit of Radiohead, others that were dancier. All were as well received by the crowd as the hits, such as "Prescilla".
The band then left as the crowd wailed for an encore. They got it in the shape of the quietly haunting "Moon and Moon", on which Khan whispered "I'd be boy and you'd be girl", while Caroline Weeks and Katherine Mann gleefully provided backing vocals. "What's a Girl to Do?" made for a very grand finale, with Khan and Mann facing each other, ritualistically taking turns to bang on a snare drum.
Touring to 29 Jun (www.batforlashes.com/live)
Eli Regan, student, Warrington
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