Under the moniker Bat For Lashes, Natasha Khan headlined at the Neptune Theatre, the first stop on her US tour. Surrounded by vintage lanterns, Khan alternated between keyboard and guitar while being accompanied by a single keyboard player. She played a variety of songs from her latest album, The Lost Girls, as well as favorites from the past decade.
Seattle-based R&B/jazz vocalist Emma Caroline Baker performed at Vito’s last week. Accompanied by George Bullock on guitar, Emma sang numerous covers as well as originals. Treat yourself to seeing Emma live during her residency at the Hotel Sorrento in downtown Seattle on Sundays.
Ólafur Arnalds played the Moore on January 26, 2019 as part of an multi-continental tour in support of his August 2018 album re:member. The Icelandic pianist and producer combines classical, ambient, and electronic genres.
“We brought a lot of pianos,” Arnalds understated. He sat at a concert grand equipped with three other keyboards. Behind him at left and right were two player pianos that “go bleep bloop,” which created unique note sequences using software algorithms triggered by his primary piano. Accompanying Arnalds were percussionist Christian Tschuggnall, and a string quartet that included violinists Viktor Orri Árnason and Sigrún Harðardóttir, violist Karl Pestka, and cellist Johanna Niederbacher.
Arnalds led the ensemble in creating
an atmospheric wall of deep bass, strings, and layered electronic arpeggios.
They filled the Moore top to bottom. The lighting included beams aimed straight
up, criss-crossed, and blinking, which set moods reminiscent of a thunderstorm,
a starry night, and a space voyage. The audience also became an instrument, by
singing one note that Arnalds recorded and then incorporated into the tune. An extended
viola solo kept the audience so attentively quiet that coughs and sniffles from
the upper balconies were audible near the stage.
Arnalds was unpretentious in his attire. He started the set wearing a T-shirt with an eighth-note couplet and bird-themed socks without shoes, but disappeared offstage suddenly and returned with a sweater: “That was not an intentional wardrobe change, by the way. I’m just cold.”
A good storyteller, Arnalds commented
on his inspiration for each composition between tunes. One he wrote while visiting
an Indonesian island, where their March new year is celebrated with a Day of
Silence and an avoidance of technology: “It was one of the best days of my
life, on an island with no Internet…giving Mother Nature a day off from
Before starting the encore, Arnalds explained
how his late grandmother in Reykjavik had steered him toward piano. At the
time, he had been drumming in a punk-rock garage band, whose name had been
chosen as a joke because they didn’t imagine becoming popular: “Three albums
and two European tours later, we said, ‘Oh, f*ck. We shouldn’t have named our
band Fighting Shit.’” The audience roared. He continued to say that his
grandmother used to intentionally unplug her radio so he would come to fix it,
which was also “a good opportunity to eat pancakes and listen to Chopin.” She purchased
stacks of CDs at his shows to distribute to her friends in Mallorca—a retirement
hotspot he likened to our Florida.
Arnalds sat at a player piano under a
single spotlight for the encore tune, “Lag Fyrir Ömmu,” which means “Song for
Grandma” in Icelandic. The tender pianissimo tribute was performed with distant
strings that slowly decrescendoed into silence. The audience held its applause
for an uncomfortably long time, not wanting to interrupt the moment, until
Arnalds finally turned around and waved goodbye.
The New Pornographers are back in Seattle for two nights of stealthily edgy indie-pop. The Vancouver B.C. super-group—currently A.C. Newman, Neko Case, Blaine Thurier, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder, Joe Seiders, and Simi Stone—has been going strong for nearly a quarter-century. The tour supports their critically acclaimed 2019 album, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. Indiana glam-soul artist Diane Coffee (Shaun Fleming) will open. The Neptune Theatre show on Thursday sold out back in December, but a few tickets are still available for the more recently added Wednesday show at Neumos.