A Kate Bush for 21st Century
A mayoral hustings was being organised by Bristol University students in the Wills Hall at the top of Park Street on Friday evening. A few hundred metres away in the Anson Rooms within the student union on the same night, there was no question what was the hottest gig ticket in town.
Bat For Lashes is the stage name of 33-year-old Natasha Khan, born in London to a Pakistani father and English mother, and a musician who is the closest thing we have got to a Kate Bush for the 21st century.
Rather quaintly waving to crowd as she walked on stage, Khan then proceeded to play a set of stirring highs.
When she wasn't singing, she was either dancing or playing a variety of instruments, from a piano to hand bells. For one song, she held a transistor radio above her head like a victorious FA Cup final captain, while for another she got the most cheers for shaking a maraca since Bez from the Happy Mondays.
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The evening was only spoiled by the incessant chatter at the back of the hall which meant the power of her singing Laura accompanied by only a piano was ruined, the desired silence more like a busy student union bar.
Most songs were greeted with whoops of recognition by those in the crowd engaging with the music, a few of which had black bobs in tribute to their heroine, who received Mercury Prize nominations for her first two albums.
Khan also dedicated several songs to her devoted fans. Names are something of a recurring theme in her music. Pearl's Dream was a particular highlight, while the set finished with Daniel, probably her most well-known song.
A principal draw of Khan as an artist is her poetry. "You're the train that crashed my heart," she movingly sang during Laura, inevitably causing a few tears. "You're the glitter in the dark."
This was an exceptional gig from an exceptional talent.