Bat For Lashes and Yeasayer
HMV Picture House, Edinburgh, Tue 20 Oct 2009
For fans who came to Bat for Lashes' music by way of her mainstream success, Yeasayer are probably a fairly bewildering prospect. Their special brand of gospel-psych-electro-ethno-folk-rock, accessorised with a few falsetto flourishes, seems initially to meet with a degree of bafflement from the heavily kohled ranks of expectant Khan-fans. To their great credit though, the cheers grow as the set progresses, with debut-album gems ‘Wait for the Summer’ and ‘Sunrise’ still standing out as a cut above.
After a mere seven songs from the Brooklyn band though, it’s the turn of Natasha Khan, who floats barefoot onto the stage and launches straight into a number that showcases the full theatricality of her performance, with lightning bolt flashes, thunderous drums, and Khan herself, throwing her body around, face shrouded in a mop of black hair. One thing strikes you immediately about her: this girl can sing. Really sing. She's in the company of a select few female artists, Kate Bush their spiritual leader, who can wail perfectly in tune.
But there's something lacking. Khan has a beautiful voice, but a stage presence that's less than commanding - unless you fancy the pants off the woman, which more than half the crowd clearly do. Her songs are fantastical tales with driving rhythms and atmosphere in abundance, but the formula that won her so many accolades for debut album Fur and Gold varies little throughout the set, and all that kettle-drum drama seems to lead, ultimately, to nowhere. Starting the encore with album closer and valedictory duet 'The Big Sleep', which could have been placed much more effectively, but perhaps less crowd-pleasingly, at the very end, seems a move symptomatic of an artist who still has room to mature into some braver and more unexpected choices.