La Roux, Conway Hall, review: Elly Jackson commands the stage like she's never been away

4.00

The singer hasn’t said goodbye to her favourite decade, the Eighties, just yet

“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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum