Concert Review: Bat for Lashes

I'm usually not very spontaneous. But when I read a profile of 27-year-old UK singer/songwriter Natasha Khan, who fronts alternative girl band Bat for Lashes, in the paper yesterday, I made an exception. I decided I had to see her live. Lucky for me, she was playing the very same night at the Bowery Ballroom in NY's Lower East Side.

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Why the sudden urgency to rearrange my plans and trek downtown to see her play? After reading about her multi-instrument playing abilities and live shows, I was intrigued enough to know what the band was about on-stage. Maybe her half-Pakistani, half-English heritage had something to do with it too – being of Indian descent, I share a close cultural similarity to her Pakistani half and somehow wanted to see if I could pick up on that in person.

I realized rather quickly that the music transcended that last sentiment. Khan, dressed in a black-and-white flowy shirt, black high heel boots worn high over her skinny light blue jeans, and a glittery headband tied around her head, hippie-style (which is perhaps turning into somewhat of her trademark accessory), commanded the stage with songs from her 2007 debut album, Fur and Gold (also nominated for a Mercury Prize, the prestigious British music award).

Khan's clear, sweet, and balanced voice seemed to have the very attentive crowd enchanted with it's fairy tale-like sound in "What's A Girl To Do" . With "Sarah" she shifted gears with powerful notes that resonated with the thundering sounds she made striking a staff-like pole on a wood block placed center stage. Between songs, Khan spoke to the full-house audience in a cool English accent and hopped around stage to swap instruments (the keyboards and autoharp among them) with bandmates, Abi Fry, Caroline Weeks, and Lizzy Carey.

The beautiful dark-haired singer, whose sound has been compared to the likes of Björk, ended the night off "Prescilla" which had the audience clapping along to her bandmates' lead. I found my new favorite band. A guy next to me, I guessed was his first time at her show too, leaned over: "Very unique to say the least – I mean, she's just so talented."

Talented, indeed.

All photos by Anne Dunne

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