Photo Credit Brittany Robinson

Banks – Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH, US (20th June 2017)

Goddess. It’s the only word that can properly describe Banks in her performing element. Following the 2016 release of her second full length album ‘The Altar’ Jillian Banks, a.k.a. Banks is just finishing up the first leg of her packed U.S. tour. The once-mysterious singer/producer Toulouse accompanied her to Columbus to perform at Newport Music Hall earlier this week.

The two artists have a lot in common so it’s no surprise that they hit the road together. Both are solo projects, and dwell in the indie R&B/pop music realms. Add a layer of complexity, and you’re there. Furthermore they both have big ties to the 50 Shades of Grey franchise, which only aids to their popularities.

Banks however, is a force that cannot be reckoned with. Opening up with the deep, haunting beats of ‘Poltergeist’, the crowd lost it when Banks stepped onto the stage through a haze of smoke with her 2 black netting-clad dancers. In typical Banks fashion, she was dressed in black from head to toe, adorned in feathers and leather. Further into the meat of the song, the real dancing began. She and her dancers interacted as one, while at other points the dancers broke away and danced menacingly at her sides. Definitely representative of the emotive, inner struggle that so many of her songs possess.

The setlist continued on with intermixed songs from ‘The Altar’ and her first full length album, ‘Goddess’. Older, more familiar material such as ‘Waiting Game’ (featured in the movie 50 Shades of Grey) and ‘Drowning’ were easily received by the crowd as songs to sing to. It definitely turned to the newer material to dance to. Songs such as ‘Weaker Girl’ that possess a little more soul, while also taking a big stance on self-worth and self-love.

An always redeeming quality of Banks’ more aggressive lyrics is when she speaks softly during her set breaks. While explaining what music means to her, she revealed that a lot of her lyrics are about a “…simple concept that I didn’t know that I needed to express at the time, but I did, and that’s why I love music so much.” She continues on to perform a sign language piece in line with a poem with a message of being impenetrable.

Closing songs included more rap-reliant ’Judas’ with the addition of a giant leather jacket for the needed extra swagger, as well as hit ‘Beggin for Thread’, and ‘Haunt’. There is much talent in an artist that can turn the audience down and turn it up from song to song. If anything was left to be desired, it was the need for more of Banks’ vocals. It felt a little too subtle from time to time, but was easily made up by the entertaining aspect of her performances with her dancers.

This team has a long year ahead of them. The European show dates are next, as well as an eventual return to the U.S. Banks will be touring intermittently until around next November. She will pleasantly surprise audience members with her range of talent, and leave you with a one-of-a-kind artistic performance.