On Monday (13 April) a sold-out Junction hosted a thrilling concert by Natasha Khan, aka Bat For Lashes, promoting her second album "Two Suns". She is getting more and more praise for her heartfelt songwriting, exotic productions and plain great tunes, which build on influences such as Kate Bush and Björk in a pleasingly non-cloney way, and this gig confirmed the praise is deserved. The stage was set with curtains of glitter and cute props, including a scarlet lampshade on stockinged legs, china Jesuses and a couple of life sized model deer. An elegant fur-ruffed Khan then emerged to perform the propulsive album opener "Glass". With a minimum of theatricals and banter, her diverse and colourful music spoke for itself, and her strong and ever more versatile voice sustained well over the set. A supporting band of three or four players swapped an array of distinctive instruments, most notably drummer Sarah Jones who provided a vital pulse for Khan's tribally percussionistic arrangements.
Nearly all of "Two Suns" was played, omitting only the duet with Scott Walker. The stylistic whirl included electronic pop songs of joy ("Sleep Alone", "Pearl's Dream"), Tori Amos-like piano ballads ("Moon and Moon"), powerful confessionals ("Siren Song") danceable exotica ("Two Planets") and surreal miniatures ("Horse and I"). The first album was represented best by the darkly nuanced "Sarah" and "What's a Girl to Do". An excitable audience demanded a second encore, which comprised current single "Daniel" played in its full synth-pop glory, after having been played earlier in a stripped-down version.
Kudos also to support act School of Seven Bells, who play a very seductive dream-pop / electronic / prog / krautrock mix that I'm certainly going to enjoy more of.