Grace Jones' Triumphant Hollywood Bowl Debut
In case you need reminding after all these years, Grace Jones isn't like us. If, halfway through her astounding show last night at the Hollywood Bowl, a flying saucer had descended from above and carried her away, few in the crowd would have been too surprised.
She is, and always has been, the Other, a transcultural singer and performer whose post-disco work in the late 1970s and 1980s merged bass-heavy Jamaican dub, grooving New York City dance music, funky British post-punk and even a little French chanson to create a sound that's as sturdy and vital today as when it arrived.
Few artists command the microphone and the stage as Jones. It makes you yearn for a world in which Madonna were the one-hit wonder with Jones occupying the World's Most Celebrated Diva throne. From her odd accent, which has tinges of French, British and Jamaican patois within, to her carved, menacing face, to those legs, which seemed forged out of steel, Jones somehow seemed too small for even the Bowl stage.
She began the set draped beneath a glimmering silver sheet, her nine-piece band offering "This Is," from her most recent album, Hurricane. As the music grooved, Jones moved her arms beneath the fabric like an android ghost. And then, all at once, she pulled it off and there she was, this statue of a human, still as solid and impressive as her "Warm Leatherette" days.
Dressed in what is best described as "35th Century Trojan Woman" get-up, Jones' mere presence was jaw-dropping, and as the night proceeded and she moved through her repertoire with complementing costumes, it was hard to imagine how she'd one-up herself. After each song she exited the stage, her microphone still hot, and as she changed costumes she spoke to the crowd. He deep contralto voice echoed up the incline like some sort of Godess commanding her people. She acknowledged Michael Jackson, her mother in the crowd, her son in the band. All the while you could hear her rustling into the next outfit.