Sunday, August 30, 2009
Bat for Lashes w/ Other Lives
My niece, Keighlyn, and I heard the celestial Bat for Lashes, aka British musician Natasha Khan, and her stellar, instrument-swapping band a few weeks ago in DC at the 9:30 Club. Khan and co. were on a month-long US tour to promote "Two Suns," their Mercury-prize nominated second album.
While the album is primarily a requiem for a lost relationship (as in "we're two suns spinning at two different speeds" from the show's opener 'Glass'), the two suns also refer to earth-goddess Khan, and her blond, vixen alter-ego, Pearl. (Or perhaps to two similarly doe-eyed, self-possessed young women... Was it just coincidence that we spent the afternoon before the show at the Air and Space Museum?!) Natasha sang and played piano, guitar, and autoharp, and was joined by musicians Ben Christophers, Charlotte Hatherley, and Sarah Jones on percussion, bass, piano, autoharp, and backing vocals.
The coolest band from Oklahoma, Other Lives, opened the show with a great set of folk-rock, including a mean rendition of 'The Partisan' (a WWII-era song often played by Leonard Cohen).
Other Lives' Cellist Jenny Hsu
Bat for Lashes' Natasha Khan
Like many of the musicians I've embraced lately, Ms. Khan is a child of the 70s. In some ways I think that's why her music resonates with me--we grew up with the same cultural references, listening to the same things. From the opening lines of 'Glass' I can imagine her singing 'If I only could, I'd make a deal with God, and get him to swap our places.' Besides that angelic yet fiery voice, with Kate Bush she also shares a mystical quality, and one that doesn't come across as pretense or corny. At one point during the show, we all even howled like wolves, but it totally works.
In addition to "Two Suns," the two hour show featured songs from their 2007 debut album, "Fur and Gold" (also a Mercury prize nominee). Of the albums' opener, 'Horse and I,' Radiohead's Thom Yorke (with whom she toured in 2008) said "natasha khan of bat for lashes ain't scared. i love the harpsichord and the sexual ghost voices and bowed saws. this song seems to come from the world of grimm's fairytales, and i feel like a wolf."
Although Khan's voice is often compared to Kate Bush or Bjork, there are hints of Polly Jean, especially in songs like 'Trophy' with it's lower register chorus of "heaven is a feeling I get in your arms." One of my favorite songs of the night was 'Siren Song,' with Natasha alone at the piano singing a beautiful song about ambivalence.
Ben Christophers (a bit of a Thom Yorke vibe, eh?)
Two Chucks (but mine are 20+ years old!)
The show's closer, the crowd pleasing 'Daniel', is a song about Mr. Miyagi's apprentice. Seriously.
Back home in Baltimore at the world's best record store...
Horse and I
What’s a Girl to Do
Moon and Moon
She's clearly a child of the 80s-look at that outfit!
And just for fun..