3 Mar 2018

Review: Grace Jones in Queenstown “This is my voice, a weapon of choice”

From RNZ Music, 10:27 am on 3 March 2018

Grace Jones, pop icon, Disco Queen, model and actress took a 1900 strong Queenstown Crowd into Grace-land last night, with an all consuming performance. Our reviewer was blown away. 

Grace Jones

Grace Jones Photo: Bloodlight and Bami

From the darkness she appears.

That strong velvet voice declaring,

"It’s been a long time comin’. I can’t remember the last time I was here. I can’t remember and I’m not gonna try cause it’s…. a private thing”

Grace Jones draws us in with her wicked sense of humour and a warmth of character that has the crowd screaming (and laughing) at the top of their lungs.

“This is my voice, a weapon of choice” she says and she means it.

Everyone is going mental, myself included, and she hasn’t even sung a word yet.

But just look at her.

At first she seems to be wearing some figure hugging body suit but upon closer inspection Grace Jones is dressed in a corset marked with white paint. Her arms, legs and chest are body painted with the same white markings giving the illusion she is a skeleton come to life; lithe and beautiful and strong.

Grace Jones

Grace Jones Photo: Amanda Neale

A giant gold skull head dress adorns her head with a long pleated organza cape completing this striking image.

The skeleton outfit is the basis for her costumes, adapted through out the show with new accessories.

During 'Private Lives' she moves like a panther with mane and tail like additions, in 'Jamaican Guy' she dons a raffia coat and whip standing alongside a man in a corresponding body suit who pole dances beside her. The effect is strangely moving and Grace Jones displays the way she can turn a societal norm on its head. Behind them both is a man waving two giant flags of Grace Jone’s face. Again her wicked humour shines through.

It continues as her disco setting of Édith Piaf's 'La Vie En Rose' starts and she stops the band because of a missed cue,

“I’m not getting a cue”, she teases, “I’m not getting a cue - again! again!” and turning on a dime she pulls us out of the humour and draws us in to stillness, seated on a stool in a bright red shroud of organza.

Throughout each song whether it was 'War' or 'Pull Up To My Bumper', Grace Jones and her band lead us on a different climatic journey.

And as for the hula hoop - well the hula hoop inspired us all. She'll turn 70 in May. 

Grace Jones

Grace Jones Photo: Bloodlight and Bami

The band faithfully reproduced the lush poly-rhythms of those famous recordings like 'Slave to the Rhythm' with every hit of cowbell and wood block amalgamating to create one of the funkiest beats known to man.

The sheer enormity of the rendition of her autobiographical song 'Williams Blood' finishing in a beautiful vocal breakdown of 'Amazing Grace' was a highlight.

The banter between songs alone is worth the night out.

“I’ve got sweat in my eye! I said I’ve got sweat in my eye! Not that I wanted some wine! Queenstown! I’m gonna have to buy some property here. I’m gonna jump in the lake tomorrow but I’m gonna drink more of this wine first!”

The band is formidable and the sound in the venue is great but what moves me most is the genuine ensemble work.

When Grace Jones introduces her band you immediately sense the joy that comes with long standing working relationships and see how they create not only beautiful music but beautiful artistry on stage.

Grace Jones in Queenstown

Grace Jones in Queenstown Photo: Cath Bennetto

The demand for encore is electric and after ten minutes of the crowd screaming for more I hear a woman next to me declare, “She’s the mother of all women!” 'Hurricane' brings down the house and reminds us that experiences like this are exactly why you see performers of this calibre live.

Everyone here knows they are witnessing something incredible and the energy from start to finish is contagious.

As she rounds off the show Grace Jones repeats “You are the best” and we believe her.

Her voice is our weapon of choice too.

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