Heading into the Pyramids Centre in Portsmouth, I was excited. Not only was I excited about the prospect of a leisure centre gig (Don’t you just love the smell of chlorine?), I was excited about seeing the musician who, in 2009, created one of my favourite albums ever, Two Suns. Bat For Lashes doesn’t tour all that often, with occasional festival appearances each year, but having not done a proper tour since 2009, I wasn’t sceptical about the evening, but I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The night kicks off with support from Sylver Tongue, moniker of Charlotte Hatherley, former Ash guitarist. Her musical style is extremely close to Bat For Lashes’, which is unfortunate as it meant that the night had little variation. Nevertheless, Hatherley demonstrated her impressive vocals which were reminiscent of a mish-mash of other female singers like Blondie and Karen O.
Forty minutes later, it is time for Bat For Lashes’ leading lady, Natasha Khan, to take to the peculiarly decorated performance area. Lanterns adorn the stage, juxtaposed with sections of rock face which creates an almost-other-worldly setting, as we’re stuck between the luminescence of times past, and the futuristic reality of other planetary surfaces. After a shaky start, Khan comes into her own on ‘Travelling Woman’, before launching gloriously into tracks from The Haunted Man including ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘All Your Gold’ and ‘Marilyn’.
However, perhaps these rare tours mean that her voice isn’t quite trained for night after night of gigs, as she falters slightly in ‘Laura’ and exclaims “Sorry for the frog in my throat, it’s been plaguing me!”. Even with this stumble, it’s a beautifully heart-wrenching performance, moving in to a very light track which didn’t quite make the cut for The Haunted Man, where Khan’s sensational voice is showed off with the accompaniment of just two glockenspiels.
Dressed in a black and white vertically striped dress, similar to her outfit in the video for ‘All Your Gold’, Natasha Khan is a hive of activity for her whole set as she shimmers and jives her way around the stage. This is certainly the case for ‘The Wall’ in which she bounds enthusiastically with a huge grin spread across her face; you can tell that she’s loving every second of it.
Encore track ‘The Haunted Man’ continues to showcase Khan’s ethereal vocal ability, with an interesting twist as she picks up a historic radio to the microphone, through which plays a chant sung by the other band members. The track ends with bleeping electrical noises which further portrays the space-age theme, but this is before launching into her most famous and exhilarating song, ‘Daniel’. The euphorically emotive track from Two Suns causes the audience to erupt and shimmy along, making it the perfect song to end her hour-long set on.
Playing a number of tracks from all three albums, her entire performance goes down well with the predominantly middle class audience. Khan’s voice is celestial as it is accompanied by unknown and foreign instrumentation, and she contorts and grinds across the stage as if she is inhabited, to create a thought-provoking and encapsulating performance from start to finish.