'I feel like London is the first place that accepted me as a musician'
Sarah Thomas
16:34 5th November 2019

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Warped vocal samples reverberate across the Roundhouse as Banks materialises through the shadows. The crimson light blends with smoke forming an aura around her as she begins to bellow ‘Till Now’ faultlessly. Two backing dancers eddy themselves around her. It’s mesmerising as much as it is a slickly crafted routine that triggers the crowd’s bodies to collide as they dance along with her.

Tonight is the penultimate date of the UK leg, and it’s ticking like clockwork as each sprinkling of vibrato and every move struck proves performing is second nature for this Californian. Bass drowned and percussion soaked, the crowd grow hazy under a violet hue for ‘Stroke’ and whilst the addition of scarf props are admittedly needless, Banks’ falsetto still pricks with awe. 

Flitting from thunderstruck pop to subdued ballads, the setlist is a celebration for an artist on her third record: the 19-track set scatters older R&B tracks with her brooding new electro-pop sound. The wash of lighting and coloured strobes sometimes drown out the finesse of Banks’ performance, but the soft murmurs of ‘Waiting Game’ and spoken word on ‘Ode to the Grey Zone’ spotlight her genre-defying artistry. 

In a moment of quiet modesty, Banks probes the crowd with the question: “do you guys like my new album?”, erupting a roar of approval that knocks her back to sound a quick “phew” before the ferocity of ‘Propaganda’ kicks in. The entire venue is flush with unrelenting energy, provoking Banks to take a moment to thank her devotees and admit: “I feel like London is the first place that accepted me as a musician.” Just these few seconds flood the room with a sense of her gratitude, and the audience later welcome complete silence to take in every nuance of an acoustic take on ‘If We Were Made of Water’.

Picking up the pace for an explosive finale, Banks ploughs through the hits. ‘Gemini Feed’ ignites the crowd to scream every lyric fervently, bass distortion on ‘The Fall’ feels electric as it vibrates through your core, and ‘Gimme’ ramps up the seduction and sass as she mystifies you with her sonic spell. Glimmering back for encore track ‘Beggin For Thread’ the atmosphere turns wild once more, and she knows she’s killed her show for the fans that started it all. The dizzying lights fall dark and the crowd reluctant to leave blast one last cheer for what was a triumphant night at the Roundhouse. Banks has delivered a masterclass in alt-pop performance and London is her homecoming. 

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Photo: Lauren McDermott