Banks @ Birmingham Institute – 17th November 2014

Banks @ Birmingham Institute – 17th November 2014

Late Night with Seth Meyers - Season 1

I’ve come into this gig cold (both physically and musically). I’ve listened to Banks’ album “Goddess”, released this September, a handful of times, but not ‘properly’ by any means. But, I’ve been to enough gigs in my time to know that for every bystander loitering at the back, there’s a super fan at the front who’s been waiting months for this night.

Firstly, Josef Salvat opens the show with a short set. He looks like a skinny Olly Murs with some extravagant conductor-esque dance moves (I definitely saw the robot at one point), but his vocals are strong and he’s clearly in the zone. There is heavy blurry bass from his very cool looking band, and Josef has a strong falsetto. He’s come on late though, so I settle in with a drink for Banks’ inevitably late arrival.

She’s due at 9pm, and it’s 9.45 before lights go back down (“Who does she think she is, Lauryn Hill?” I joked to a friend. The irony later being that I see Banks’ Wikipedia page cites Ms. Hill as a big influence.)
There’s not many woman that can pull off a sparkly black cape and a lace corset / wide leg trouser combo, but it appears Banks is one of them. She’s fierce, she’s got attitude, and once the mix has been balanced, she sounds great.

It’s the opening night of the UK tour, and rumour on the ground is that she isn’t feeling well. So if I were to be picky I’d say there were noticeable nerves, a few pitchy vocals and a tendency to mumble. But these things aren’t negative, they’re actually quite endearing. Banks has an unquestionable presence, and she has some committed fans in the Institute tonight.

After a few early album favourites, ‘Alibi’, ‘This Is What It Feels Like’ and ‘Brain’ she speaks to the crowd and thanks them for their support and energy. Banks has energy of her own in abundance, dropping her shoulders to the beat and singing deep into the microphone, her breathy tones resonating around the venue.

Admittedly, mid set there’s a noticeable lull in this energy. ‘Warm Water’ and ‘Bedroom Wall’ are a tad pitchy in places and Banks almost seems like she’s lost focus. I’m pretty sure she can sense it though and she walks to the back of the stage, she comes back afresh for ‘And I Drove You Crazy’, and the set is back up to par.

Highlights in the set are to come with ‘Drowning’ and ‘Waiting Game’ as her band rise to the challenge. The guitarist/keyboard player is grinding his bass, and the drummer is standing up from his seat, getting the crowd going and driving the beats forward. Banks has got her head down, strutting from side to side of the stage, twisting her expressive hands around. She’s mastered avoiding looking stroppy, and instead comes across sultry and intense. It’s a difficult balance, but she’s tiptoeing that edge quite nicely.

Altogether I’m impressed, and I have the distinct feeling I’ve had the pleasure of seeing someone early on who’s about to get ‘big’. Really big. In her closing number ‘Beggin For Thread’ she sings:
“I know my disposition gets confusing / That’s why you wanna come out and play with me”.
Yes it does Banks.
And yes it is.

Review – Zoe Albutt

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2 Responses to “Banks @ Birmingham Institute – 17th November 2014” Subscribe

  1. Judi Rodbourn November 18, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    Zoe, yet another articulate and informative piece. Great reading. Jude.

  2. Jamaine Jarrett November 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm #

    I heard the security were great too!!

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