Last week I I went to the Southbank to see ESKA perform her solo album English Skies at The Queen Elizabeth Hall. For a solo artist she has amassed an awesome crew to join her on stage to peform the multi-layered tracks including Dave Okumu (The Invisible) on guitar whom you can see here in rehearsal. The main component of the configuration is the 60+ voice Goldsmiths Choir who make up the backing vocals and some of the beats in acapella arrangements. Eska's work with Matthew Herbert's Big Band has brought about collaborating with Simon Deacon and Struan Leslie on intergrating choreographed movement. For this show Eska was followed around the stage by the choir, bodies lapping in motion like waves and wakes of an ocean. For "Rock of Ages" they each picked up smooth shingle stones to make percussive sounds as the beautiful and mesmeric mumer to underpin Eska's magic vocals. When not making her distinctive "Eska" sounds from her own instrument - her voice - she switched between playing the piano, yukele, violin and even harmonica. I was overwhelmed at how one person can pull together so many people to play out their particular vision and at the same time, stand out as the definitive incomparable shining star who wrote the entire piece. I wasn't alone as there were two standing ovations and a backstage visit from the one and only Grace Jones!
(Thanks to ROWDY SUPERST*R for the photos)