Friday, January 16, 2009

Grace Jones - Hurricane Live

Fierce is a chronically overused adjective but it is the only one that adequately describes Grace Jones. She is the epitome of the word, the embodiment of all things fabulous and ferocious. Which other 60 year old diva could prowl the stage in little more than a g-string and corset, talk incessantly about her tight pussy and still come across as sexy and relevant? Given her iconic image, I fully expected the Grace Jones experience to be dark, edgy and effortlessly stylish. It was. However, I wasn't prepared for the rawness of last night's concert, the pure emotion and the grittiness. There were no production values to speak of - just an incredibly tight band, several dozen hats and Grace in all her breathtakingly bold glory.

Upon arriving, my friend quipped that the Enmore Theatre resembled "an elephant graveyard for old gays". An unkind reference to the decidedly MAG-tastic crowd. A wide spectrum of fans turned up but I'm guessing the majority still own "Warm Leatherette" on vinyl. Respect! After knocking back a few too many drinks, we navigated our way through a sea of drag queens, baby faced hipsters and grey haired gays to find the best vantage point. It wasn't long before the show began with Grace hovering above the crowd, belting out her 80s classic "Nightclubbing". The effect was mesmerising. Grace looked like an Amazonian goddess as she was lowered to the stage in her skimpy outfit and outrageous headgear. More importantly, her voice was in fine form and the band was incredible. It was apparent from the beginning that we were in for something extraordinary.

As the opening number came to a close, Grace disappeared off stage to change into a different hat - a pattern that would continue for the entire concert. It should have been disconcerting or jarring but it worked for the simple fact that Grace left her microphone on and used the opportunity to talk to the crowd from the wings. Some early highlights include "I'm just swallowing something... and it's not what you think" and "this jacket is tighter than my pussy". She returned to sing a menacing rendition of "This Is Life" from her new album "Hurricane", before pleasing the faithful with 1982's still magnificent "My Jamaican Guy". The performance was amazing but her straw man hat and potato sack ensemble constituted the first and only time that Grace crossed the line between fabulous and slightly ridiculous.

The next few songs all came from "Hurricane". Grace mentioned that "Sunset Sunrise" was written by her son and pointed him out to the crowd (he was part of the band). She then introduced "Love You To Life" by revealing that it was the first song recorded for the album and was the reason "I'm here and not smoking a spliff in Jamaica". The latter performance was fantastic but still paled in comparison to her stunning rendition of "William's Blood", which was as raw as it was spectacular. Ms Jones described it as "church music" and the arrangement really beefed up the song's gospel overtones. That track more than any other showcased Grace's deep, rich voice - the quality of which often gets overlooked in favour of her startling image. While the new material was inspiring, my highlight from the first half of the concert was "La Vie En Rose", which Grace performed while rotating around a stripper pole! It speaks volumes for quality of Ivor Guest's updated arrangement that a 70s disco anthem fit seamlessly into the funk heavy cuts from "Hurricane".

Grace donned horns to belt out a dark and menacing version of "Devil In My Life" before bringing the crowd to their feet with "Pull Up To The Bumper". Appropriately, given the song's rumoured anal sex subtext, Grace spent most of the song shaking her bare arse at the crowd like a 20 year old Brazilian stripper before inviting the audience to dance with her on stage. I feared it might be the big finale but she swiftly returned for the gentle reggae jam "Well, Well, Well" after humorously bitching about Sydney's weather ("It's hotter than fucking Jamaica!") and shark infested beaches during yet another costume change. It was then time for another classic in the form of "Love Is The Drug", which was beautifully staged with green lights reflecting off the diva's sequined top hat. I thought that would be hard act to follow but Grace upped the ante again by singing "Slave To The Rhythm" while rotating a pink hula hoop around her waist for the entire song. Quite a sight to behold!

The concert concluded with a truly epic performance of her new album's title track. Grace squeezed every inch of emotion from her voice as she sung "Hurricane" while walking towards a giant fan, long black cape billowing behind her. It was clear from her facial expression that this is more than just a song to Grace - it sums up her whole life philosophy. "Hurricane" was the most theatrical moment of the evening and the perfect end to an exceptional concert. I left the Enmore with a whole new appreciation for Grace Jones and her entire body of work. I've been inspired to fill the holes in my collection and dig deeper into this amazing woman's life. She is one of a kind and still undeniably, sometimes almost unbearably fierce.

Note: The first photo is mine, the remainder come from D-Listed.


Tommy said...

Fantastic review, Mike! If there's any song of hers which sums up the force of her personality, it's "Hurricane." Who needs production values when you're a one-woman force of nature.. I wish I could have been there! You guys are so lucky to have her (even if she's likely to have used up all the Cristal Champagne in Australia by the time she's finished!).. Seeing her in concert is on the the top of things I must do before I die.

Magical Froggy said...

Cheryl Cole could show Grace how to do it properly.

Jamie_movietrip said...

I am dying inside, I didn't get tickets!!!

Robpop said...

I really need to explore this diva more. Great review

Jamie said...

Love Grace Jones so much. My ex once woke her up whilst trying to refill her mini-bar and she didnt attack him, she was a pussycat apparently.

Johnny D said...

Once, again, fantastic review, and it's such a shame grace didn't play in more cities around Australia. She truly is amazing, and the Hurricane album is sensational.

Justin said...

Love the review! I just recently discovered Grace's music this past summer and I'm so glad I did. I also think Hurricane was one of the best releases of the past year. Bitch is fabulous and Madonna would kill to look half as good as Grace does at 60.

Steve Plant said...

Hey Mike.....Greetings from the UK.
Just found your review via Google and have to say that I couldn't agree more with it !!!
Was at the Birmingham Symphony Hall last night to see the great Diva and was totally blown away. Been a major fan since the days of I Need a Man and to actually see her live........unforgettable. One thing you didn't mention(so not sure if she did this at your show) but TWICE during the evening she grabbed a random guy, straddled his shoulders and had him carry her into the audience. I was lucky enough to try and touch her hand but as I did she pointed to her ass and shouted SMACK IT !!! I would have been rude not to...God Bless her. Anyone reading this, by the way, that has NOT yet seen this superstar in concert.....get your ass out there and DO IT!! Trust me, you won't regret it.
Love to all

Mike said...

Steve, I'm so jealous. If that happened to me, I would never wash my hand again! Grace did invite people on stage to dance with her but no one had the honour of smacking her arse. You are one of the very few to pull up to her bumper!

And I totally agree with you - Grace Jones live is an experience not to be missed!

thisisnotforyou said...

Magical Froggy said that Cheryl Cole could show Grace "how to do it properly."
Show Grace Jones how to do WHAT properly? Be a flash in a pan? Ride 15 minutes of success for about 16 and half minutes?
Or, to put it more bluntly, how to slice a little loaf of English white bread known as Cheryl Tweedy Cole up and serve it to the adoring pre-teen masses?
Tweedy couldn't hold a TORCH next to the diva of all divas since the LIGHTEST tailwind from one WAVE of Grace Jones hand would extinguish the sputtering flame known as Cheryl Tweedy Cole FOREVER. But then Cole probably appeals to fans of pop shlock like Magical Froggy who can't distinguish mediocrity from supreme excellence.

Anonymous said...

you'd have to go far to see a better action shot than this. From a forthcoming book muzika kinda sweet. pogus caesars lens and grace's eyes connect just long enough for this classic shot.

Chester said...

I completely agree with everything you have printed here.
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