Friday 20 February 2015

FKA Twigs @ The Roundhouse

FKA Twigs Congregata

FKA Twigs is something of an enigma. She’s a woman who speaks solely through her art. And at this one-off gig at the Roundhouse, she gave everyone a glimpse of her ritualistic world. For an hour and half time stood still and nothing else mattered.

Twigs is an artist known as much for her visuals as her music. Yet this wasn’t a gig full of screens, backdrops, props and elaborate costumes. The focus was on her as she sang and danced her way through the setlist in a contemporary and balletic display, accompanied by a group of male backing dancers and contortionists. Each song was its own narrative with its own effect or routine: the jerking movements and lustful connotations of Papi Pacify performed on a rotating stage; a cage of red lasers used for Video Girl; vogueing during Give Up; recreating the floating cloth performance for Two Weeks. Together they created an over-arching narrative she entitled ‘Congregata’, representing the coming together of her multiple artistic ideas within her career. Visually her performance paralleled the music: stark and minimalist yet laden with meaning.

The whole evening was an intensely sensual and erotic experience: the percussive production, the sweet fragility of her breathless voice, the dark sexuality at the heart of each track. Her slinky dance moves, highlighted in silhouette, accented every beat of the music as she stared intently over the audience who stood silently transfixed. Not once did her performance drop (until the very end when she introduced the band and dancers). The whole effect was utterly hypnotising.

What was perhaps most erotic about her performance was that this was the single vision of one woman. Despite all the provocative, boundary-pushing imagery of domination and sexual power play, it was Twigs herself who dominated every element of the show, the only woman on stage taking total control of her artistry. She laid her soul and her sexuality bare. And being a one-off performance, it was a real privilege to watch.

Really, it’s an impossible feat trying to capture this unique performance in words, a performance that left many members of the audience speechless. Ultimately Twigs is neither singer nor dancer, but a performance artist. She is in a class of her own. Outstanding.