LIVE: Bat For Lashes, Live Streamed Event
“Welcome to my house” softly states Bat For Lashes, the musical pseudonym of Natasha Khan, as she introduces her stripped-back livestream performance from the warmth of her dimly lit home in LA. Perched behind her piano, sheet music propped up, the solo affair was far removed from her typical lavish performances where costume and character embellish her album’s themes. If anything, the intimate set-up made it all the more inviting.
Billed as a career-spanning set, Khan reworked her catalogue into purely piano-based renditions, similarly to her short UK/US promotional tour for 2019’s Lost Girls that was cut short for obvious reasons. Having not performed for some time, her nerves and candour were endearing: “I’m super nervous, as it’s my first show since having a baby. Mums out there know that ‘Mum Brain’ is real”. Though it certainly didn't effect her superb vocals.
Recently becoming a mother herself, Khan revisited songs that have taken on new meaning, in her own life and those familiar with her work - opening with an unrecognisable version of ‘All My Gold’ from 2012’s The Haunted Man, she treated us to a soothing cover of The Carpenters’ ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ and the live debut of ‘Let’s Get Lost’, a track co-written with Beck which featured on the Twilight: Eclipse OST some years ago.
‘What’s A Girl To Do’ from her Mercury Prize-nominated debut album Fur And Gold didn’t lose any of its spookiness despite the scant piano arrangement, and a tangible, affecting outpouring of emotion came as Khan brought herself to tears with a heart-wrenching rendition of ‘Lilies’. “I’ve become too mushy” she laughed, but I’d defy even the hardiest of folks to not have been drying their eyes.
Part of what made her uncomplicated performance so magical was Khan’s kind, disarming demeanour as she tenderly contextualised her songs before playing them - making perfect use of the acoustics of the space with restrained control, she wrapped a blanket of comfort and fantasy around you with her ASMR-like, one-on-one storytelling in what felt like such close proximity. As a former primary school teacher, and now a new mother, that child-like adventure and escapism has been a common thread throughout her ethereal, arpeggio-based synth-pop.
Her set was openly reflective of the past year, where so much has changed despite it feeling like being in stasis: “Words have taken on a whole new meaning”, in reference to ‘Deep Sea Diver’ which Khan originally associated with pain and turmoil - that many of us have felt throughout this strange time in humanity - but has now reframed it as an opportunity to transform. It’s the song she brings her mesmerising set to a close with, and as she sings “it’s time to get enchanted”, by that point everyone watching her stunning performance already was.
To hear more from Bat For Lashes, click here.