City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Review: Bat for Lashes, Tuesday 20th October

By Kane Mumford - Posted on 27 October 2009

Bat for Lashes
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Bat for Lashes has a responsibility to the outside world to be so cool that it makes everyone a bit sad. But Bat (AKA, Lisa Khan) doesn’t see it like that. Her beloved fans purchase the music and adore her, to Bat, that’s a given – the real aim is to make the citizens at the epicentre of bohemia (Brighton) nod in appreciation.

No amount of aggressively feminine names will achieve this. She has to make music. But how? The only way. Plunge into your soul, come up feeling slightly inadequate in the deep and poignant stakes, and so garnish them with folk stories and spoken-word ballad stylings. Instant depth. Even if you are just singing about a relationship that got a bit tedious.

At the Picture House the Bat turned up like a thirsty vampire, “dance to this song!”, she implored at the start of the admittedly dancey Daniel. It seems that nobody told her about ECS. Edinburgh Crowd Syndrome.

The very special, largely static, way that Edinburgh enjoys its live music can throw even the most weathered performers. So the vampire found the crowd bloodless and moving like a packet of defrosted sausages. But on the other side of the barrier things were all go.

The Bat prepared for the Edinburgh autumn by cloaking her ethereal white dress in a black cardie, but this didn’t curtail her fey wanderings around the lo-fi stage with its car headlights and hanging wilderness scenes.

It could only have looked more preternatural if she was barefoot, which she was. And watching the Bat is confusing. Yes, she can sing. Yes, her band can play. Yes, it all looks good. So why does that not translate to anything that could ever hope to raise a single hair on one’s neck?

It’s all a wet dream for the mercury prize panel; a bit of Richard Curtis movie violin, ghostly wailing, nods to electronica, general genre flouting: but nuance is a foreign country to this act. Bat’s found the falsetto button and has become addicted to pressing it.

The drums are only used for dramatic (see hammy) emphasis and rarely get a chance to do anything that would create a risk of excitement. The most annoying thing is the chord changes. It is possible for a tone deaf mule to figure out the fourth chord in a sequence when the first is played. If music be the food of love this would be porridge, bland and predictable.

Thankfully there was a reason for the building being full of cheering fans by the end of the set. Her big hitters, The Bat’s Mouth, Siren Song, and Good Love (the latter channels a very beautiful part of the My Bloody Valentine wall of noise approach) all did what they were supposed to.

Bat for Lashes knows how to please her fans, it’s true, but she’s all about creating an atmosphere that, once she’s achieved, provides little in the way of surprises.