Last night we went to see Grace Jones in the courtyard of the elegant Somerset House - my second open air gig in two weeks and the skies were kind to us, with no rain at all. I saw Grace back in January at the Roundhouse on her 'Hurricane' tour and this was, as far as I recall, the same show, just 6 months more rehearsed. She was, of course, fabulous but, sadly, didn't announce to the world that she was an alien and didn't hit her dresser at all (despite his/her inability to find the hole... the hole of what? I dread to ask...).
She opened with 'Nightclubbing' standing on her riser at the back of the stage, a mere 25 minutes after the advertised start time, and then proceeded to wow us all with her classic songs from the '80s and the great songs from her latest album, 'Hurricane'. Inbetween each song she left the stage for a few moments, still talking into the microphone while she was re-styled for the next song, remaining in her black swimsuit/basque throughout. Add a sparkly hat and here's a new Grace.
The highlights for me were probably the same as last time, with 'Pull Up To The Bumper', 'La Vie En Rose', a hard and dangerous 'Demolition Man', 'Slave To The Rhythm' during which she kept her hula-hoop moving round her waist the whole time and 'Devil In My Life' during which she wore devil horns and pulled dramatic shapes. The closers were the almost punkified 'Love Is The Drug' and 'Hurricane' with the big wind machine sending Grace staggering around the stage, song-sheets flying and her cloak billowing out behind her as she collapses to the floor. A special mention to her new classic, 'Williams Blood' (which she dedicated to Michael Jackson since he was surrounded by religious people too), hard and driving rhythms and crashing guitars and, at the highlight in the chorus the lights on stage and those shining into the audience all came alive for a magnificently dramatic moment while Grace, the backing singers, guitar and drums all crashed and clashed as one. I hope someone filmed it.
After the end of the show and the audience leaving, on came Grace again to say 'thank you' to everyone she could think of, saying she was high from the show, and proceeded to thank everyone involved in the show. Then she vanished again to mass applause. If you get the chance to see Grace Jones play live, grab it with both hands!
Somerset House is a great backdrop to a gig but suffers from the usual problems of poor sight-lines, what with every tall person in London being present last night, and aggravated a bit by the cobble-stones underfoot that didn't make for comfortable standing. The courtyard is surrounded by columns that were lit in dramatics greens, reds and purples to complement the stage show. It was well organised though, with managed queues for the beer tents so it gets the thumbs up for that.