Tuesday 27 June 2017

Review: Diamanda Galas – London Barbican, 19/06/2017

London Barbican

A real event drew your humble reporter to London once again – the return of the high priestess of darkness Diamanda Galas to the London stage after a gap of five years. Never a proposition to be taken lightly, we ballasted ourselves with nicotine and wine before heading through the thick air of the UKs hottest day of the year to the wonderfully modernist construct of the Barbican, which was full of the veteran (and long absent) goth elite of the capital. Big hair and black filled the stalls in a theatre that was acoustically perfect and visually stunning. This was going to be an experience to relish.

Walking onstage in a flowing black dress to a thunderous applause, Galas sat down at her grand piano and started off lightly with the Jacque Brel number 'Fernand', setting the tone brilliantly with a arch melodiousness before we were thrown into the pit with 'She' – red stage floods and cacophonous piano virtuosity ripping a hole in the hall filled by the siren wail of her seven-range voice. Eschewing all but the bare minimum of patter (one song being dedicated to the promoter, “A brave man....so few of them are”), Galas continued with a dazzling collection of numbers that maintained the intensity of the evening - 'A Soul That’s Been Abused', 'Die Stunde Kommt' (Galas being truly chilling singing in German), and 'O Prosfigas' amongst them.

By way of light and shade Galas performed several of her poems, listened to keen and attentive silence. “You kill me, you kill me, you kill me... I might kill you”, the words hanging in the Barbican air. Then, ending with with a viscerally cathartic 'O Death', the main bulk of the set was over.

Never one to compromise to standard rockist niceties Galas came on stage for each encore precisely one at a time, the crowd having to beg with ovation after ovation as they were treated to 'Pardon Me I’ve Got Someone to Kill', 'Anoixe Petra', and finally a sublimely defiant 'Let My People Go' which didn't need any polemical grandstanding to stand out as an anthem for the outsiders, queer and oppressed.

No support act, just 90 minutes banshee blues from the most unique performer on the planet. Next time, don't miss it – I certainly won't.

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