Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Apr 27th 2010 5:44AM by Jody Thompson
The eccentric star accused Lady Gaga at the weekend of copying her style -- but on last night's performance, she didn't just blow Gaga out of the water, but Madonna, Rihanna, and any other wannabe popstrel with an access to an extensive wardrobe too. Nobody does it as well as Grace.
Grace -- at 61, 10 years older than Madonna -- didn't rely on an extensive, limb-bendingly energetic dance troupe, million-dollar stage sets or any dazzling special effects.
Rather, in the Victorian stylings of the Royal Albert Hall -- her first ever headlining gig there -- the imposing Jamaican simply stood centre stage, albeit clad in ever-more outlandish outfits, but leaving her impressive voice, hilarious and sometimes slightly terrifying banter and equally gob-smacking stagecraft to speak for itself.
She first emerged onstage for opening track 'This Is' enveloped from head to toe in what appeared to be a voluminous black bin bag.
Standing on the stage free from her eight-strong backing band -- who were almost hidden behind the platform against a plain backdrop -- Jones remained stock still for the duration, until right at the end of the song, when she threw off the metaphorical black shackles to reveal herself clad in an outfit that can only be described as "'Mad Max' gone madder."
Sporting a headdress that brought to mind a Roman centurion's helmet, sculpted in the form of a pair of feathers and arcing from her forehead, coupled with a plume of white wig cascading down her back to her taught booty, Jones' athletic form was otherwise clad in a skin-tight, asymmetrically striped body suit that made her look like a tiger, finished with tan-coloured stiletto boots.
As with much of her material, the opener was a darkly seductive, cinematic, dub-flecked track that slunk its way into your brain. Second track, 'William's Blood,' was dedicated "to London, because this whole album was born in London." Her declaration raised a thundering cheer from the crowd.
The song also showcased what everyone seems to forget about Jones: wild outfits and oft-reported craziness aside, she has an immense voice. Here, it was given full vent; from purr to roar, the sound is plush black velvet, spiked with razor-sharp shards of diamond. It was quite something to behold.
After choosing the first two songs of the night from her most recent album to open the night, Jones sat down on a PA stack for the third song. She explained, "I know my legs look like a racehorse, but I don't like to sweat. Let's go with a classic," as she launched into 'Private Life,' while licking her finger and slicking her eyebrows into shape.
Mixing the old with the new is a balancing act she struck for the entire curfew-busting evening, and even without old favourites, there was another costume change to sweeten the flow of new album tracks that might not be familiar to everyone. Every occasion Jones left the stage for one of her myriad clothes swaps, she kept singing into her radio mic, before emerging, in no time at all, not a note or beat missed, in another peacock endeavor.
There was the Cleopatra-gone-Rasta striped red, green, black and yellow outfit for 'My Jamaican Guy,' and top-to-toe black and red latex -- complete with long curling tendrils -- for 'Devil in Me,' and while throwing kung-fu moves for 'Demolition Man.' A huge spiked red starburst of a dress, complete with towering head decoration, showed itself to be completely backless at the end of 'Sunset, Sunrise,' as Jones shimmied her thong-clad buttocks to offer a full moon to the whooping audience.
But the climax came when Jones' sequinned bowler hat -- paired with enormous tulip-shaped trousers -- was lit from above, turning Ms Jones into a human glitter ball that shone through the entire hall while she sang a pumped-up version of 'Love Is the Drug' and the sold-out audience danced in the aisles. Centre stage -- more than any other performer -- is truly where Jones is meant to be.
Jones' new single 'Love You to Life' is out on May 2.
'Devil in My Life'
'Love You to Life'
'La Vie en Rose'
'My Jamaican Guy'
'Well Well Well'
'Love Is the Drug'
'Pull Up to the Bumper'
'Slave to the Rhythm'