By Nick Cowan
August 1, 2012
The seated gig is a curious thing. It puts the audience in a different mindset, assuming the more passive spectator role demanded of most performances at Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre. Both Light Asylum and Planningtorock took this passivity as a challenge to rouse the audience out of their slumber, with mixed results.
It was Light Ayslum up first, who took the stage to a polite dusting of applause. The duo gave a powerful performance with their beat-driven electro, bolstered by the formidable stage presence and vocals of Shannon Fuchess. Although it was hard to shake the feeling that this wasn’t actually a gig but an experimental play about the 80s New York club scene. Regardless of classifications, Light Asylum’s show was energetic and engaging. They even managed to rouse some of the audience from seated head nods to sporadic outbreaks of dancing, followed by a self-conscious returning to seats at the end of their set.
After a brief, slightly disappointing break due to the lack of little ice cream pots on sale, it was time for the main event: Janine Rostron, aka Planingtorock. Rostron embraces the theatrical in her androgynous persona, Planningtorock, which is fitting given the depth of her vocal talent. When she emerges it is as if by accident, wandering on stage in baggy black clothes and a cap as the beat of ‘Doorway’ thunders on. She is not fully revealed in the spotlight until she begins singing, her long hair obscuring a prosthetically distorted face that makes her look like one of the Uruk-hai trying to lie low. It makes for an enthralling show that’s enhanced by complimentary visual displays, with Planningtorock’s smart use of saxophones that feature across her second album W adding another layer to her sound.
For an encore, Planningtorock played new song, ‘Patriarchy Over and Out’ for the first time, to a great reception and finished off with ‘Living It Out.’ Both encores were enough to burst the dam of pent up dance moves that the crowd had built up over the course of the two sets. And, as one audience member hollered after her performance of W’s stand out track ‘The Breaks,’ Planningtorock ‘totally killed it!’