Hollywood film stars haven't generally done well in the world of rock. Keanu Reeves's attempts at multitasking, and those of Minnie Driver - to name but two - were met with scorn. Yet You're Speaking My Language, last year's feisty debut from Juliette Lewis and her band, the Licks, had an undeniable, albeit cliché-ridden, swagger.
Now the Natural Born Killers actor has a follow-up to preview, Four To The Floor. Lewis was always going to be the star tonight, but she still threw herself into proceedings, strutting, boogieing and shaking her tresses with abandon.
Lewis's strength is her yelping voice, which sounds like Janis Joplin's, and is surprisingly powerful. Lewis also gels well with her band. The Licks now look like a proper group rather than a motley crew of session musos. When one of the four-piece takes his shirt off in response to the muggy heat, the rest follow suit.
The gormless chugging has been replaced with razor-sharp riffs, which rendered older material barely recognisable. Less familiar songs benefited from this new-found clarity. Well-worn lines filtered through (kisses were hot and hearts stolen), but the vivacity of the performance was irresistible.
And you could also see the influences clearly. "Purgatory Blues" is a Foo Fighters pastiche, admittedly smartly constructed (it's perhaps a homage to Dave Grohl, who plays drums on the new album). Lewis introduced one song as "our gift for you", and several people must have expected the Rolling Stones's "Start Me Up". Instead, "Get Up" referenced Mick and Keef's Sticky Fingers period, with the intro from The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" thrown in for extra gravitas.
The band lacked bite in places (Lewis could do with hanging out with Queens of the Stone Age to add venom to the satirical "American Boy"), but they performed with such enthusiasm that you could hardly fault them. Lewis genuinely seems to be doing this for the pleasure of playing in a band, like any rocker worth their salt, rather than just being a movie star pretending to be a musician.
Famous stars are usually confronted with a phalanx of camera-phones when they play venues of this size. But when Lewis stage-dived, she was borne aloft by excited fans. They certainly paid attention for the right reasons.
Touring to 16 November (see www.julietteandthelicks.com)Reuse content