Over the course of its history, currently under threat of being replaced by a shopping mall, London’s Astoria has played host to some of the biggest names in the music business. But this is probably the first time it’s seen a Hollywood A-list actress in full rock-chick mode. Judging from the turnout, this was an eagerly anticipated outing for Juliette Lewis and her Licks.
After a brief warm up from Dublin band Humanzi the main force of the evening hit the stage like a tonne of bricks. After keeping the crowd waiting for just long enough, the Licks emerged on stage followed shortly afterwards by the one and only Juliette. Long-running comparisons to the Foo Fighters seem especially relevant as, for this tour and album, the Licks are supplemented by Foo-in-chief Dave Grohl. Judging from the subsequent touchy-feeliness from Lewis you can safely assume that they all get on pretty well.
Raucous renditions of old favourites like American Boy thrilled the audience, backed with tracks from new album Four On The Floor, including the current single Hot Kiss. To describe Juliette as animated would be an understatement. She leaps around the stage like a five-year old that’s had too much tartrazine. Her vocals aren’t flawless, but anyone who sounds as perfect live as they do on record is surely miming. Juliette Lewis tonight was emphatically not.
She knows how to work a stage and an audience and provide a damn good show, even if some of it did come across as being a little contrived. Inevitably the place heats up over the course of a concert, but the male members of the band suddenly decide to strip to the waist in what seemed like a pre-planned move. Lewis – doubtless to the chagrin of at least some of the audience – unfortunately didn’t join in but, given her extremely tight leather trousers, the audience didn’t seem to mind. The woman has buttocks you could crack walnuts with.
Flack fired at the Licks seems odd. If Lewis had never made a movie then some of her reviews would be far better than they have been. Compared with pretty much any actress/singers from Hollywood she wins hands down. Why? You’re not going to see Jennifer Lopez or Lindsay Lohan (does she still sing, anyone?) crowd-surfing in a mosh-pit anytime this side of Hell freezing over. If the standard of a gig can be judged from audience reaction, the rapturous response Juliette and the Licks prompt from their fans tonight suggests she’s a definite winner.