Review Meltdown, Johnny Jewel & Zola Jesus, Southbank Centre by James Ellis

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The Southbank would simply Meltdown from the heat. This year’s fest sees Christina and the Qeens platforming an array of lush artistic activity. Our warm up for Johnny Jewel was Zola Jesus.

Zola arrived on stage, vamp and punk and I was in love. She said she rarely uses piano and was treated to a concert grand, she couldn’t believe her luck. With wild operatic vocal and an easy pop aura, I found myself taken unawares. Her own songs were introspective and honest. I never expect to hear Dido’s Lament by Purcell. Folk songs were also offered from Ukraine and Armenia. She has this extasic quality about her. Most certainly the discovery of the festival. I’d love to hear more feverish opera!

The main event was Johnny Jewel, best known for his work on the new Twin Peaks from David Lynch. His set used clips from the films he worked on, Lost River, Bronson and Drive aside old horror including The Nude Vampire and A Bay of Blood. It’s the piercing synths and all round heightened flair that Johnny brings to his sound world. Tell Me a stunningly touching song with vocals from Saoirse Ronan was heard near the end and I’m so glad it was. The spine tingling saxophone solo for his Windswept in Twin Peaks The Return was a real highlight, with video from the whole of the show’s run. His bow at the end appeard to have broken him, back bent for a durational period.

What an utter thrill to hear live. Won’t you come back, Jonnhy?

Meltdown runs till 18th June 2023

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