La Roux, Conway Hall, review: Elly Jackson commands the stage like she's never been away
The singer hasn’t said goodbye to her favourite decade, the Eighties, just yet
Wednesday 02 July 2014
“It’s four years since we played in London,” marvels La Roux’s Elly Jackson at one point in tonight’s show. As she at long last begins the tour which heralds the release of her second album ‘Trouble In Paradise’, it’s clear that time since her 2009 debut has been well spent.
The tone is firmly set from the opening track: Jackson strides on, sleek and confident, bright red jacket setting off her swept quiff, and begins the smouldering breakup ballad ‘Let Me Down Gently’ with its hydraulic beats, gaseous textures and breathy backing vocals.
Like the rest of ‘Trouble In Paradise’, it’s intense, charged, sensual, and solid gold in terms of melody and chorus, with a wounded heart pulsing beneath the synths.
Jackson’s lost none of her stage command, either, her sharp and snappy moves all Tinkerbell Jagger. There’s certainly plenty of opportunity to throw shapes to the likes of the cheekily shunting ‘Kiss And Not Tell’, which comes off like a heavy Bananarama.
For Jackson hasn’t said goodbye to her favourite decade, the 80s, yet (though she has said goodbye to former songwriting partner Ben Langmaid, in a less than amicable, and to be honest, less than noticeable split). In this, her long delay has served her well.
Another helping of synthy-sweet 80s pop a couple of years after her debut might have seemed desperately old hat, but since then, the much-debated retro circlejerk of chillwave has come and gone, and now it’s like no one can even be bothered to care about whether wholesale reconstruction of an era is a good or bad thing.
And it’s hard to muse or care with tunes like this. ‘Cruel Sexuality’ is a thumper, a romping, faintly countryish verse offset by a soaring, plaintive chorus with the tropical garnish that decorates much of ‘Trouble In Paradise’. Even better is the unpromisingly titled ‘Sexotheque’, a bubbling tale of a lover lost to sordid night thrills, with a throat-seizing rush of a vocal climax.
Then there’s ‘Tropical Chancer’, a moodier, sassy kiss-off with a New Orderish synth breakdown and big drum cascades and cymbal crashes and album opener ‘Uptight Downtown’ which makes very, very good on its pilfering of Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ guitar sound.
The only new song which isn’t a total belter is the longer, more aggressive ‘Silent Partner’, but even that charms with a “Bat-MAN!” blare of synth horns - the new songs are full of such charming little details. And then of course, there’s the smattering of old tracks - as well as the hits, there’s the album tracks that sounded like hits at the time - ‘Colourless Colour’, ‘Tigerlily’, and then a brilliant ‘Bulletproof’ to close. Another advantage to taking so much time away is that, on return, Jackson and her formidable band are as hungry for the old songs as they are for the new.
Just one more point to leave you pondering, as you walk into the night, whether it’d be better if all musicians were forced to take five-year breaks between albums.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant