Banks @ The Trinity Centre, Bristol, 20/03/2014

BanksThere's an air of excitement and tension in the large crowd assembled in the Trinity Centre. No one quite knows what to expect from the evening. This is, although hard to believe with the hype surrounding her, Banks' first ever UK headline date. After a slew of releases last year, she managed to whip the internet into frenzy with her Weeknd indebted slick, yet dark r’n’b. Live though, she’s an unknown entity, and everyone is waiting to see if she can transform her recordings into live masterpieces.

She arrives onstage amid smoke, lasers and rumbling bass. So far, so good then, in the upkeep of her mysterious songstress persona. Playing with a minimal set up of only a drummer and guitarist, she still manages to create the lucid wall of sound that’s a hallmark of all her songs. The drums sound especially huge, with intricate rhythms playing here and there, so delicate you barely notice them. It's a shame that the first song is peppered with sound problems; with her vocals so low in the mix you are completely unable to hear her. It's clear as well that she’s really nervous, which is no surprise at all.

With these minor hiccups out the way though, the rest of the set is jaw dropping. As Banks gains in confidence, hides less behind vocal effects, and really lets go, she comes into her own. She floats round the stage, catching the eyes of those in the front row and baring her heart to everyone in the crowd. These aren't just over-produced r’n’b jams. The songs are a powerful, personal collection of songs. On stage, Banks is able to face her insecurities and share them with all present. One of the new songs she plays, a "world exclusive" according to her is the brilliant, empowering “Goddess”. It's Banks' mission statement, and has the crowd mesmerised.

Her voice is still her most powerful weapon, and on a stripped back, piano only version of another new song, her fragile, breathy voice shines through. On her Aliyah cover as well, that she recently played for Radio 1, her voice blows everyone away.

It's her first EP material that stands up the best however. "Bedroom Wall" is a tender, shimmering number, ending with Banks beating her chest and imploring to the crowd, "Do I have to write it on your bedroom wall you fool?", whilst “Waiting Game” is the anthem in waiting that it always has been, ending with her backing band really letting loose, with slick guitar solos and drum fills. She is clearly not your average singer-songwriter.

Banks is so honest and genuine that you get wrapped up in her performance, any mistakes she makes just reminding you how accessible and human she is. She isn't, like many of her peers, perfect, and this is her greatest strength. Unlike the Weeknds introverted persona, Banks makes it feel like she's singing just for you, and when she tells the room that "Bristol has been the best start to this tour that I could have wanted", you believe her.

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  1. Banks streams "GODDESS" from debut - DrunkenWerewolf - 27/06/2014

    […] in the year we reviewed the Bristol leg of Los Angeles singer Banks' first headline UK tour. Right now we're a little […]

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