Bat for Lashes’s dreamy vocals and mystical presence light up EartH
Environmental Arts Hackney, formerly the Savoy Cinema, built in 1936, is slightly derelict in a chic and bohemian way. It suits the aesthetic of Bat For Lashes (aka Natasha Khan) perfectly.
Her fifth album, The Lost Girls, is the soundtrack to an imagined film about a gang of girl vampires marauding through the California desert, led by Nikki Pink. Khan loves a concept album and this is her first since leaving major label EMI and moving to LA. It shows (or perhaps sounds). Full of sweeping synths, it creates a dreamlike world all of its own, something Khan excels at. Standout new tracks Feel For You and Jasmine are amped up here; Khan emerges from the lights, her voice as delicate and ethereal as her lace and tulle dress. She displays her influences with a cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer. Every song heard through the prism of her voice becomes truly special.
The stage is set with lamps that glow brighter as songs reach their climax, which is effective. Khan alternates between keyboard and guitar, with just another keyboard player for backup. She is a warm and engaging presence, chatting between songs about her obsession with alien abduction and the concept of lost time before the spooky Close Encounters. Before writing Land’s End, she met a Professor of Mythology (“It gets weirder,” she says as the audience chuckles) who, dressed in a black cape and top hat, led her across Dartmoor to pay tribute to a rowan tree and pass it into a spectral landscape. Although now in California, Khan is “marinated” in the misty, folkloric English countryside. Though her latest album is more poppy and 80s-inspired, there is a strong folk feel to her songwriting. Old favourites Daniel and Laura go down well with the audience and sound as good as ever.
As an encore, she plays Moon and Moon (“I’ll just let my fingers do what they want. It’s ok, I trust them,” she says charmingly). This is followed by a cover of Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work and Roy Orbison’s I Drove All Night. The former fully shows off her magical soprano and is mesmerising and moving: one wants to catch her voice in a bottle and keep it always. It is apposite also; she is the millenial’s Kate Bush, if Kate Bush had driven through the arid desert all night.
Though in a mid-sized venue, Khan makes the show feel intimate, languishing sensually in her otherworldliness and making each audience member feel as though she is talking to and playing just for them. A magical evening.
Photo: Luke Hannaford
For further information and future events visit Bat for Lashes’s website here.
Watch the video for Kids in the Dark here: