Ships In The Night, a one-woman amalgamation of everything from 1980’s Labyrinth era Bowie to a button pressing evanescence revival in 2021, recently hit Kreuzberg’s dingy Madame Claude’s to deliver a hypnotic set.
The steady breathe of Alethea Leventhal, musically known as Ships In The Night filled the cavern at the bottom of brothel-come-bar Madame Claude’s on Saturday 4 June, pulling folk down from the sunny evening up above. Pre-empting Alethea’s performance, I anticipated the haunting yet optimistic stylings of the ‘Drive’ soundtrack, most memorably College’s ‘Real Hero’. What I immediately recognized was that Ships In The Night offered something a little more confusing than that: Ships In the Night doesn’t only wear her heart on her sleeve… she inflates it to near bursting and waves it from a flag pole. She wants you to hear her darkness, and it’s clear from the first instant.
Instantly, we (the audience) are brought forward from a deep depression towards the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.
This year’s earlier debut Self-titled EP was naturally the focus of Alethea’s set, highlighted by opening EP track ‘Dark Places’ which clearly defines the sound that Ships In The Night reaches for. That’s not to say that she doesn’t hit the mark – comparatively less perfected tracks feel like they are suited to the tune of Alethea’s tale. We feel Alethea’s journey and progression, and life doesn’t tend to run in a straight line. The moments that we are opened up to, fractions of positivity and warmth, however, feel ever more poignant. In personal favourite tune ‘The Floor’, Alethea compliments uplifting synths with whispers of “So lift me up for I cannot see”. Instantly, we (the audience) are brought forward from a deep depression towards the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.
It brought a strong moment of understanding, tying a scattered bunch of ideas and sounds together to say, this is what I do.
Ships In The Night beautifully broke up her set with the excellently chosen cover choice, Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘The Killing Moon’, which, as any cover should, respected the (cult) original perfectly whilst bringing the new artists individual sound to it. It brought a strong moment of understanding, tying a scattered bunch of ideas and sounds together to say, this is what I do.
Performing alone to a cramped cave of circa 40 didn’t prevent Ships In The Night from showing us that she intends to be more than a singer. Taking moments to step away from the synth, Alethea uses her limbs with Kate Bush theatricality, placing her firmly within the exciting realm of musicians who really perform.
When she performs, she brings theatre…
For a first EP, Ships In The Night is promising. I just hope that the drama means something – when she performs, she brings theatre, but it is important that she grows and maintains the poignancy of her message. I trust that she will prevail.
Review by James Moorton