Concert Review: Bat For Lashes @ Sixth & I Synagogue (2/18/20)

Bat for Lashes
Bat For Lashes (Photo from FB @batforlashes)

‘What if Lost Boys was about hot vampire women instead?’ – Natasha Khan

British singer-songwriter, Natasha Khan (aka Bat for Lashes) came to Sixth & I Synagogue on February 18th to tell stories about her music, perform golden oldies, and introduce synth-pop masterworks from her newest album, Lost Girls (via AWAL Recordings). Her fifth album pays tribute to the nostalgia of childhood. That includes movies growing up, indeed the album was specifically named after Lost Boys, re-imagined with women as the anti-heroes.

The mood was right for fireside stories as Natasha unfolded a map of her musical history for all in attendance. A giant candelabra adorned the white synagogue wall, and a series of lanterns hung around the stage, all flickering in dramatic time to the cadence of Natasha’s poetry readings or to her powerful and bold lyrics about lost love. Against the white background, Natasha wore a bright, red dress, complimenting the red lights that cast deep shadows around the stage. She switched between the microphone at the front, and her keyboard in the back stage right. One keyboardist joined her on stage, placed in the middle, just two lost girls performing together.

She eased into the musical reverie with “Kids In The Dark”, a melodic, lush song about young, forbidden love.

The pews throughout Sixth & I Synaguoge were very full, and the attendees were mostly quiet throughout the show, to such an extent Natasha
was surprised. We weren’t at all that surprised, as soon as she started singing and reading poetry there was nothing else to think about, so fully did she capture our imagination.

Next came “The Hunger”, which came about when Natasha re-traced Kiefer Sutherland’s footsteps to the bridge featured Lost Boys, a moment that also cemented the theme of the album.

“Mountains” came on with shimmering keyboards and the spine-tingling refrain ‘Sing to me in the daaaaaaarrraak’, the word dark acting as more than just a single word or a single mood.

Natasha described “Feel For You” with the caveat that she is a child of ’80’s and one of her musical heroes is Chaka Khan. So this song was born as a loving ode to Chaka’s “I Feel For You”. She added in her own touches, with minimalist synth beat and lyrics.

Natasha performed five songs from Lost Girls, then read some poetry for us. Then she picked up her guitar and started in on her own golden oldies, spanning her first four albums. First she spoke to the meaning of the haunting “Joe’s Dream”. She read from her notes, which she described as pieces of writings, just loose ends. This story was about a women who fell madly in love, and her finance was killed on the way to their wedding. The lyrics speak to the grief of loss escaping, and a whole new person remains.

Overall she performed 14 songs, including three covers. The first cover was one of my personal favorites from the 1980’s, Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”, which she performed in an understated fashion.

She ended the main set with the only song performed from her third album (The Haunted Man). About suicide, the notes from “Laura” and Natasha’s resonant voice were all that could heard over the hushed audience, chills once again tingling down our spines.

The encore was her chance to give more love to the 1980’s, playing two covers. She told us that she discovered Kate Bush’s “This Women’s Work” at about the age of 11, and was completely in awe, ‘wondering where on Earth this amazing being came from.’ Then she ended with Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night”, and my guess is most of us would have done the same to see another Bat for Lashes show.

I will definitely get a copy of Lost Girls, I keep playing “Kids in The Dark” and “The Hunger” on YouTube, so you should too. And don’t miss her next show in DC. That would be unfortunate.

Setlist
Kids In The Dark
The Hunger
Mountains
Desert Man
Feel For You
(Poetry reading)
Joe’s Dream
Boys of Summer (Don Henley cover)
Close Encounters
Daniel
Horse and I
Laura

Encore
Moon and Moon
This Woman’s Work (Kate Bush cover)
I Drove All Night (Cyndi Lauper cover)

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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