Grace Jones opens her own Meltdown Festival 2022
The unrivalled queen of new wave and edgy art-pop opens Meltdown Festival, which she curates this year, with a heady mix of classics and new material.
Descending from the stairs, Grace Jones is sultry and exudes a prowling feline, both in her actions and aesthetic. Setting off with Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing, the band is on top form, complemented by the venue’s addictive acoustics. Flash and Pan cover Walking in the Rain garners huge cheers from fans, particularly the lyrics “feeling like a woman, looking like a man”. Jones is known for her music and model work, including fluid sartorial style.
The artist radiates a contagious flamboyance; during outfit changes, you can still hear her in the wings, witty as ever with her pithy maxims. Not only does she grace us with her unique presence but she is also alluring to watch; an incredibly lithe performer at 74 years old, she steps off the stage in teetering heels effortlessly, draping herself over the floor seductively.
Fans stand to their feet for My Jamaican Guy; its funky bass and chord progressions make for a very groove danceable track, while I’ve Done it Again is akin to a smooth bossa nova trip down memory lane and is another highlight in a set full of them. Jones is humorous and banters all night; during Demolition Man she plays the cymbals, but one acts unruly, resulting in her hitting it hard to the floor, followed by the good cymbal too. Disappearing into the wings again, she reappears with a new headdress, spiky and bold. A surprising cover of Roxy Music’s Love is the Drug is breathed new life, transformed into an invigorating interpretation, fans singing the outro well after the last chords. Jones’s further costume changes include a hat that bounces the laser lights above; her outfits contribute to the stellar performance, although there are some wardrobe malfunctions resulting in unplanned nudity, which you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking are part of the show.
An unexpected presence of orchestra players during Libertango is another welcome event, with the singer dressed as a matador. Taking a turn for the solemn but keeping to the soulful, Jones gives a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace, which segues into Slave to the Rhythm, the icon hula-hooping to the entire song, an astonishing feat. There are numerous highlights in this succinct set, including Williams Blood, accompanied by a choir, and though there is hope for Pull Up to the Bumper, possible time constraints leave it as a capella, while Hurricane is a musical storm captured indoors, with wind blowing a billowing cape, Jones leaving her mark as an indomitable tour de force.
Photos: Pete Woodhead
For further information and future events visit Southbank Centre’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Pull Up To The Bumper here: