Grace Jones is an utterly confident and assured artist, with a wit and personality that inevitably infuses her performance. Her ability to wow the audience with a visual and aural spectacular was undisputed – and while she may be 62 – she still had all the style, figure and presence of a truly great woman.
There was fashioned fever and anticipation in the crowd at the Palais on Thursday night. By 8.30pm people were seated and chatting noisily over the DJ Alex Taylor, waiting for the chameleonic and inspiring style icon to emerge. Known for her incredible array of bizarre video clips, album covers involving the contortion of her perfect body, a series of acting roles, a distinctively beautiful face, and not least, her music; Grace Jones went on to prove that she still has everything and more.
The stage went dark and the sound of thunderous momentum quelled the crowd into reverent anticipation.
The curtain lifted to reveal Grace J shrouded in silver pleated satin before the 6 member backing band. Like a pleated monolith, the cloying fabric draped over her form with close-fitting fidelity. Her voice pealed out from under her shroud; and you wondered what would be revealed.
Suddenly the silver was whipped off to reveal her wearing a zebra-striped body suit and stark white quill feather wrapped back over her head like a roman helmet, complete with long white wig of hair down to below her butt. She whipped her white-as-white mane in delightful cognizance of her powerful command and sang with a clarity and volume that left you in no doubt of her capacity.
She sang ‘William’s Blood from her new album Hurricane and then launched into the calypso funk of ‘Private Life’ then slinking off stage for a costume change but still bantering out of view about twitter and other sundries.
She emerged in a black PVC bustier with red detailing on the head, centre of her torso, thighs, calves – even on her boots. At the back and sides of this amazing outfit, twisting rubbery snake tails bounced and curled with her movements. There were still more of these twisting tendrils coming out of her hat – and she whipped around the stage to great effect.
She spoke in a voice dripping with sultry assurance. “Yes honey, I’m a granny. It’s ok to live to be a granny and look like I do.”
A third costume change had her sidle onto stage in a flame red textured and frayed structural outfit. She wore a little red hat and her angular features were poised between two flames on either shoulder. She wooed the crowd with “I love you Melbourne, I love the rain” and launched into ‘La Vie En Rose’.
Mid-song she suddenly turned around to reveal that her back half was entirely bare – the dress was a façade affixed by a few red ribbons strung across her back and forming a G-string, but her whole back of her was completely bare.
She was a shredded crepe flame goddess and she knew it, her brilliant white teeth flashing as she whirled around to expose, cover, and expose herself as she spun. The crowd gasped in shock and appreciation, her audacity of style and cheekiness celebrated with a burst of applause.
Her next outfit accompanied ‘My Jamaican Guy’ – and she was suitably adorned in Jamaican colours with a headdress and a tiny tasselled skirt, although at the front of this skirt hung one long big tassel – a series of varicoloured threads that swung down like a schlong. She would grab hold of it and swing it in time to the tropical synth pop refrain and croon “He’s laid back, not laying back… laid back, not thinking back”.
No fan could have been disappointed – Roxy Music’s ‘Love is the Drug’ became a sing-along with her dressed in bizarre disco pantaloons that burst with rainbows that refracted across the ceiling and the crowd; she emerged for the next series of songs in sleek black and dancing with a lifeless double, a mannequin torso of herself on a silver stick, all the while singing ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’.
As if this wasn’t enough, for the title track ‘Hurricane’ from her new album she commanded a striking silhouette, only to unleash from what presumably was a backpack, a stream of black fabric, which thanks to a wind machine stage left blew right across the front of the stage like a black satin river, soft and seamlessly parachuting behind her.
People were standing by this time, overwhelmed by the array of eye-popping outfits and spectacle that Jones had revealed for us all. With the perfect mix of new material and her disco dub classics that made her the well-loved icon she is; Jones ended with the rapturous crowd singing along with her to ‘Pull up to the Bumper’ and ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ in an explosive confetti finale. It was utterly amazing, and beyond the wildest expectations you could have of an artist in their 60s. But she is furthermore one of the true icons of our time, a performer so brilliant and experienced, that is a rare and exciting privilege to witness.
– Anaya Latter