Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Friday, 20 June 2008 11:16 UK

Grace Jones performs at Meltdown

By Colin Paterson
BBC News entertainment reporter

Grace Jones does not look a day older than when she was chasing James Bond up the Eiffel Tower in A View To A Kill.

Grace Jones
Jones was at the height of her fame in the early 1980s

And Thursday night's two-hour performance at London's Southbank Centre proved that she is still every bit as eccentric as when she slapped TV presenter Russell Harty, received a lifetime ban from Disney parks for flashing her breasts or fell out with the staff of Eurostar.

The singer was back at Meltdown for the second year in a row.

Last June, at the request of Jarvis Cocker, she performed as part of a concert showcasing the songs of Walt Disney - Jones opted for Trust In Me from The Jungle Book.

This time, festival curators Massive Attack asked her to perform an entire show. She obliged with a set incorporating the whole span of her career from her Studio 54 disco days, through to her '80s Trevor Horn-produced pomp.

There were even four surprisingly relevant sounding tracks from her forthcoming album Corporate Cannibal, which she promised would be out in September.

The sell-out crowd at London's Royal Festival Hall included Vivienne Westwood, Noel Fielding, Hot Chip, Har Mar Superstar and Peaches.

Strange behaviour

But they were made to wait, as the show started 30 minutes late - which, in Grace Jones' time, is punctual.

A screen at the back of the stage was raised up to reveal the singer, who turned 60 last month, standing at the top of a staircase wearing massive high heels, a leather coat, with a huge feather on her head - combined with what looked like a pair of luminous Deeley boppers.

Grace Jones
The star turned 60 in May

Her version of Iggy Pop's Nightclubbing ended with a greeting of "I love you", followed by the bizarre spectacle of Grace Jones bumping her way down the stairs on her backside.

"This is how I walk down the stairs. It's called a crawl," Jones told assembled fans.

It was a pattern that would be repeated during the show - rapturously received songs interspersed with some very strange behaviour, exactly what a crowd at a Grace Jones concert wants.

During the second song of the night, Private Life, she disappeared for five minutes behind the speaker to the left of the stage, but continued to sing.

She finally re-emerged for a version of My Jamaican Guy wearing a costume which appeared to be half-witch, half-scarecrow.

The costume changes continued. The fourth song was a new one, This Is Life. Grace Jones was down to her catsuit, the audience were up on their feet.

Cowbell solo

A music stand betrayed the fact that the new material had still to be learnt by heart.

Grace Jones
Jones is set to release a new album later this year

However, the giant industrial fan to the side of the stage played havoc with this plan, blowing the lyrics out of order and leaving Jones to improvise.

Then again, a storming rendition of the track suggested this could all have been staged.

Other highlights of the show included a Grace Jones cowbell solo, with the singer sporting the largest array of hats to be seen anywhere this week outside of Ascot.

She even encouraged a 50-strong stage invasion during a celebratory Pull Up To The Bumper.

Unlike at a Morrissey gig where each reveller tries to hug their hero, here the trespassers were too frightened - and for good reason.

Only one girl grabbed her round the waist from behind. Grace Jones pulled herself free and simply said, "I could put you down." No one argued.

By the time of her second encore Grace Jones was barefoot, wearing a mask and playing the cymbals for a sing-a-long version of Warm Leatherette.

All that remained was a third encore, this time of her biggest UK hit, Slave To The Rhythm, followed by a standing ovation.

There are few 60-year-olds who could keep up with Jones.

Grace Jones returns to the UK next month to headline The Secret Garden Party in East Anglia.

Grace Jones joins record attempt
20 Oct 06 |  South East Wales
Jones slap tops TV chat show poll
22 Jan 06 |  Entertainment
Grace Jones denies train fracas
06 Apr 05 |  Entertainment

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