Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bat For Lashes, Lewis and Clarke @ The Mod Club (April 25, 2009)

concert review: Bat For Lashes, Lewis And Clarke @ The Mod Club (Toronto, Ontario) - April 25, 2009

Bat For Lashes @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon
Bat For Lashes @ The Mod Club: photo by Michael Ligon

The UK's been a source of some of the most interesting female musical talent for a while now although it seems that over the past several years it's been with increasing frequency. I'd already had the pleasure of seeing Lily Allen live last week at Sound Academy and this past Saturday night at The Mod Club I saw yet another of one the UK's female musical exports, Miss Natasha Khan who goes by the intriguing stage name Bat For Lashes who'd chosen Toronto as the kick-off to her North American tour in support of her second full-length "Two Suns".

Perhaps Natasha has a thing for Pennsylvanian chamber folk-rock outfit Lewis and Clarke as they'd also opened for Bat For Lashes in 2007 at the El Mocambo. Although a generally chatty crowd threatened to mire the vibe, Lewis and Clarke proceeded on with their gentle folk-rock set, expressing their sound with gently plucked acoustic guitar arrangements, delicate cello and stand-up bass, softly played drums, and the soothing vocals of frontman Lou Rogai. There wasn't much deviation from their chamber folk-rock formula from what I recall but in general they did what they did quite well. While there were signs of appreciation from the audience, I think the audience was generally indifferent. But who could blame them for being impatient to see Bat For Lashes.

I have to admit that my aural introduction to Bat For Lashes has been quite recent. While I've never really been a fan of Kate Bush, comparisons to her as well as a deluge of press(both official and blogs) had convinced me to give her 2007 debut "Fur and Gold" a listen and I'm glad I did. Her songs are soaked with dramaticism, dark-toned pop songs that tug at the soul whether acoustic-based(piano, harpischord, autoharp) or augmented with electronic flourishes. It's Natasha's passionate - with - an - ounce - of - pain vocals which utimately hold the melodies together and pull the listener in refusing to let go until your completely engulfed in the each song's emotional resonance. The band opened with "Two Suns" track 'Glass' and as drummer Sarah Jones launched into a solid rhythm, I could feel pulsating waves of sound wash through me. It was an intense feeling. While the pulsating waves of sound subsided to less tangible levels, the set wasn't any less intense because of it. Ash's Charlotte Hatherley took up bass guitar and background vox detail and she especially excelled with the latter while multi-instrumentalist Ben Christophers provided various accoutrements. With the stage decked out with various antique store items like Holy Mary figures, a leg-shaped lamp, angels and a wolf-themed blanket, there was an atmosphere of mysticism, an impression I'd got already from "Fur and Gold"'s album cover. Wolf-howl from Ms. Khan at one point notwithstanding, she was a lot more down-to-earth and less eccentric than I'd expected. She'd even attempted a joke (unfortunately which I hadn't caught, although others had) in response to which some audience members had chuckled which seemed to please her as she humbly responded "aww, they laughed at my joke". It was a nicely varied sounding set ranging from the invading pop of "Horse and I", the danceable "What's A Girl Got To Do", the scintillating electro-pop of "Daniel"(included twice in the set in both a quiet and 'bigger' version), and the tribal-stomp dance-pop of "Sleep Alone". Sensitive, sultry, emotional and charistmatic, as well as being one heck of a songwriter, Ms. Khan has all the makings of success. For sure, next time she won't be playing The Mod Club. While I did attain a certain level of enjoyment from Klaxons' "Myths of the Near" back in 2007, knowing what I know now of Bat For Lashes I can only say that "Fur And Gold" losing out to "Myths of the Near" for that year's Mercury Prize was total robbery.

Photos: Bat For Lashes, Lewis and Clarke @ The Mod Club (April 25, 2009)

Chromewaves and The Panic Manual, both have reviews of and photos from the show. Muchmusic also has a brief review of the show. lyncanthropy has some nice photos from the show too.

MySpace: Lewis and Clarke
MySpace: Bat For Lashes

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