Bat for Lashes at Meltdown Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Ever since we first caught Bat for Lashes at a small yet crowded venue in Kilburn it was clear that Natasha Khan was going to be a star.  

Several decades later, as the third group of people to witness songs from the new album ‘The Dream of Delphi,’ it is a treat to see her perform at Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown Festival.

With a theatrical take on performance, at tonight’s gig there is a large mirror on stage which reflects Natasha Khan’s dance moves as well as the audience’s reaction to them and the music.  Also on stage is a large rock – Spinal Tap eat your heart out – set beside said star and a further formidable multi-instrumentalist: Violeta Vicci on violin/viola/various.

The show is pure storytelling through movement and music.

Bat for Lashes takes us through a series of chapters including a gothic, Depeche Mode tainted version of song ‘Daniel’,  ‘Tahiti’ – with a slight Agnes Obel feel on piano and viola, and an encore beginning with a sea-chanty style version of ‘Sleep Alone’ with just acapella vocals and the audience clapping along.

It is great that it is hard to pin down Bat for Lashes’ sound.  The use of backing track, birdsong, droning bass, eerie violin and, a highlight of tonight, Steinway grand piano makes for a unique combination.  We enjoy tonight’s more minimalist, darker approach, in particular the version of song ‘The Hunger’ and the associated dance moves to it – moves which remind us of the main character in (Netflix series) ‘Wednesday’ and the classic video to Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’.  The song is very Lost Boys (film) and happens to be from Bat for Lashes album called ‘Lost Girls.’

Despite the venue’s size it is an intimate performance.  Rarely do you use a singer crawling on all fours, barefoot and elaborately dressed in pure lament and really connecting with the audience.  Natasha shares with the audience that she had a daughter in lockdown and it is clear some of the movements for the show had been inspired by this including cradling an invisible baby.

In keeping with the raw, animal-like vibe, a memorable moment was when Natasha howled at the audience, encouraging them to howl back – a  moment Thomas Truax would surely be proud of.

In tribute to it being Pride month, Bat for Lashes did a piano-based cover of True Colors by Cindi Lauper which was both a delight and crowd-pleaser.

Natasha Khan shows that stardom fortunately hasn’t gone to her head when she says hi to members of the audience including her family and former Bat for Lashes collaborator Caroline (Weeks), who we remember from the early days, who are here supporting her efforts tonight.

Bat for Lashes finished her set with an exquisitely stripped down version of ‘Laura’ with just vocals and viola.  We look forward to checking out the new album soon.

Find out more on Bat For Lashes’ official website

Words by Caroline Low
Photos by Victor Frankowski

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