Live Music + Gig Reviews

La Roux @ Notting Hill Arts Club, London

5 February 2009

La Roux

La Roux

La Roux‘s first headline gig in London tonight happens to be in the very same place that launched Lily Allen. Like the chart topping LDN girl before her, 20-year-old Elly Jackson is in residence at her A&R man Seb Chew’s YoYo night for four weeks. Then, in March, she supports Allen on tour around the land.

Femininity and associations aside, there the similarities end. Like fellow breaking electrogirl Little Boots, La Roux has yet to release an album and, so far, has a fanbase constructed almost entirely of hype. But that just serves to ensure that all four of these dates will be rammed as London takes its first look at one of the year’s most tipped new acts.

The first impression is, not entirely surprisingly, one of a nervous girl still getting to grips with what to do in front of a packed-like-sardines audience weighty with expectation. With her much-remarked-upon flame-red ‘flock of seagulls’ hairstyle and a whiter-than-marble face that offers a passing resemblance to the glacial beauty of Tilda Swinton, Jackson is certainly striking.

Her boy-and-girl band stay in the background, making keyboards and a laptop combine to produce pop music beamed direct from the ’80s as Jackson throws herself around the stage with all eyes on her. Any notion picked up from her androgenous press shots that she’d icily lord it through her set are put to rest immediately. She gabbles away between songs, telling anyone who can make her out that she’s had too much to drink. This is all to the good – she seems based, real, human – not a polished automaton off a major label production line.

The short set consists of just six songs, and they get better as it progresses. Next single In For The Kill is a statement of popstar intent, with ooh oohs that prove unforgettable. Live, her slightly shrill voice occasionally edges towards grating, but more often than not it gives fine expression to the tunes she has.

She could do with more of them. Tigerlily plinky-plonks along and fails to grab, while Fascination is, for all its promise, ultimately a one-trick pony. But penultimate number Quicksand is a quite different beast. Remixed by everyone from Hot Chip to Joe And Will Ask?, Jackson’s only single to date borrows heavily from the rhythm of Prince‘s When Doves Cry. It galvanizes those in attendance to finally attempt to find space enough to dance.

The best of course is saved till last. The ridiculously bouncy Bulletproof is rooted in a familiar vintage sound that calls to mind Yazoo and – egads – the Italodisco-lite of Baltimora. It unashamedly rams home again and again a chorus riff that, were this a hospital, would be considered contagious.

Afterwards Jackson is to be found mingling at the bar amongst assorted Klaxons and media types, having cleared another hurdle on her road to pop success.

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