Thu 20th March 2014
LA’s Banks ploughs a polished furrow in deeply personal themes delivered as powerful sultry vocals over often fervently moody electronica.
On this UK tour she has been joined by LuckyMe’s resident DJ and darling of Rinse FM and Radio One, Eclair Fifi, here ushering in the audience with a selection that mines the seam where r’n’b meets bleeding edge, post-dubstep production. It’s an at once accessible and thrilling alliance - and the perfect fanfare for a visiting artist that has leant so heavily on the production values of the UK’s taste-making underground.
Taking the stage to sinister scene-setter Before I Ever Met You, backlit and misted in dry ice, the slight American cuts a gothic silhouette as she sashays back and forth from the shadows.
On stage, Banks is flanked by two musicians, one at a drum kit, the other alternating between keys and guitar, augmenting the backing track. There is a synergy at play here, and with a lighting production that perfectly encapsulates the intensity of her sound, the show is at once intimate and powerful.
Following the haunting This Is What It Feels Like Now the more upbeat Change reveals a little of the true vocal power our host can wield. Then just when it seems the whole evening might be trotted out in the same vain she lets rip on Brain.
Perhaps because this is the first night of the tour, from this point we see a more relaxed and confident performance. We are treated to a debut airing and a little more in the way of conversation as the mood gradually lightens through Warm Water towards something of a soulful, even sunny, groove.
The dark and light of ‘Waiting Game’ brings the night full circle before our host announces her last of the evening is to be another 'world premier', a mild disappointment of crude r’n’b-informed pop, perhaps hinting at a more American aesthetic for the forthcoming album.
This would be a shame, for us in the UK at least, as it is through the unapologetic intelligence and atmospherics of her material to date that she stands a greater longevity in hearts and minds over here.
by Mark Edmundson