January 28th | Cube
Photos: Andy (@Birmingham_81)
Warmed-up by Grey Area‘s wonderfully obscure ethnic grooves on wax, the lucky ones who managed to grab a ticket were in for a treat. The Cube, with its theatre stage, was nonetheless the appropriate venue to host Vanishing Twin’s performance. Soft neon red lights breached the room’s darkness to gently clad the band and its ethereal music. It’s not every day that it happens to enjoy a seated gig, especially outside the realm of jazz or classical music.
One of Rough Trade’s best artists of the year, Vanishing Twin found their ideal environment in such a venue. The band’s stage approach was indeed theatrical, with frontwoman Cathy Lucas performing barefoot in a black-and-white optical bodysuit. Nodding to the art of Cabaret Voltaire and Living Theatre, Vanishing Twin aren’t just a band. Their latest album The Age of Immunology – several tracks of which filled the setlist – is without doubt the result of savvy artists and music connoisseurs.
Such artisanship was mirrored by the gig’s sophisticated complexity and musical diversity. It’s certainly not as easy as one may think to label Vanishing Twin. The London outfit has the talent of blending styles and influences into a rather unique performance. Vanishing Twin move within genres, effortlessly mixing psych, synth-pop and jazz with a consistent cinematic tension. ‘Language is a City (Let Me Out)’ with its middle eastern-tinged riffs and flute was possibly one of the best exemplifications of Vanishing Twin’s potential.
Cathy Lucas’ lyric scenarios, suspended between reality and imagination, took life in ethereal soundscapes mirroring the singer and multi-instrumentalist’s childhood trauma. At the age of twelve, Lucas discovered about the loss of a twin sister in her foetal stage. This phenomenon, which goes by the name of vanishing twin, consists in the absorption of one’s foetus in the sibling’s body. Since learning about this episode, Lucas has been focusing her art around the feeling of carrying a second persona within her.
This resulted in the creation of far-out compositions, constantly balanced between the realm of dream and that of reality. Numbers like ‘You’re Not an Island’ and ‘The Age of Immunology’ stood out like testaments for the band’s identity, before single ‘Magician’s Success’ with its French chanson and Stereolab-like atmospheres got everybody dancing in their seats.
The Cube’s intimacy made the interaction between the band and their fans easier, creating a bond which it’d be difficult to imagine in other venues. Although the audience responded enthusiastically straight after the first number, Vanishing Twin didn’t hesitate to drop subtle remarks about the seating crowd. It didn’t however take much persuasion to get the audience standing for the final number.
See the video for ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’ here: