Like some new romantic looking for the tv sound, Adam Ouston (under the nom de plume Costume) could have been straight out of London’s infamous Blitz Club in the eighties. Architecturally impossible hair, layered makeup, glittering outfits, strobing lights and angular backing dancers in a mist of dry ice – all the ingredients were there. Singing alone to a backing tape, this performance could have easily been a karaoke pastiche, but it was so far from that.
Ouston’s voice alone made this perfomance stand out. It soared from operatic highs to Bowiesque croon across an electronic thrum that could have been Cabaret Voltaire colliding with an EDM rave. Morrissey in style, looks and dramatic poise with the snarl of Dead or Alive, all complete with glam dramatics. All with perfectly formed pop songs that were never mundane but always dramatic and melodic. Stand out songs were ‘Bang, Bang’ and ‘Running Boy’.
This was as much a performance piece as a gig, and as such, Costume excelled at both. It was completely surprising when Ouston dropped the fact that this was his first ever gig. What a way to begin.
The last song saw the addition of live musicians, raising a special cheer from the audience. After all, who doesn’t like to see live musicians at work? Indeed, call me old fashioned, but if I had one minor concern, it was the use of a backing tape – the addition of live musicians would have enhanced the night even more. But having said that, the performance put on by Ouston was enthralling, poised and entertaining enough to overlook this.
Typically Dark Mofo – I had no idea what to expect, nothing to arm me as to what was to come, and was left thoroughly entertained.
Costume has released an album entitled ‘Pan’ which was recorded in October 2018 in Reykjavik at the iconic Greenhouse Studios (Björk, Sigur Ros, The xx, Kanye West). The album was produced by Adam himself and mastered by Greenhouse founder, composer Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Anohni, Múm, Oneohtrix Point Never). Apparently backed by DarkLab, the organisation behind Dark Mofo, it shows some faith in the prodigious talents of Ouston, who can also boast literary works and a Phd in his resume. The album is out now and available through all the normal digital channels or through here.
Photos: Arun Kendall