ZOLA JESUS @ THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER BY PHIL KING 02/09/10
Last night, amongst the swirling dry- ice and shadows, the expectant crowd gathered at the Deaf Institute were treated to a full-bodied display of quiet burning passion. And for once, the hype was justified.
Originally christened Nika Roza Danilova twenty-one years ago in the wilds of Wisconsin, the now reborn gothic chanteuse Zola Jesus swept onto the stage and transfixed with a bewitching and unpredictable performance. Flanked on either side by keyboards players who provided a rich palette of noise that scraped and glistened in equal measure, her black throated howl dominated the tracks as it skimmed the synthetic waves of haunting atmospherics.
It was breathtakingly good.
Zola Jesus is a performer who uses the simplest of props to illustrate her songs. Whether it’s entangling her diminutive frame in microphone wire, or perched elfin-like atop a hastily constructed pedestal, one can tell it’s all done with genuine feeling. As the thirty short minutes it takes her set to gradually unfold comes to a close, she parts the crowd and, after leaving the stage, studiously drifts back and forth this channel, totally impervious to nearness of her audience. Head hung low as she paces, it looks as if she’s carrying all the troubles of the world on her shoulders. But, as the music ebbs to silence, everyone knows what they’ve really witnessed is the birth of a new dark star.
Zola Jesus has just released a new CD ‘Stridulum II’ on Sacred Bones Records.