Ladyhawke, Koko, London
Tuesday 02 June 2009
We all know that musically, 2009 has so far belonged to the ladies. But with all the attitude, confidence and personality that has strutted up and down stages all over the country care of Lady GaGa, Lily Allen, Florence and the Machine et al, Ladyhawke is in some ways the black sheep of the sisterhood. She may have the look and the tunes but what marks her act out as different is her crippling shyness and the lack of any attempt to form some sort of stage personality, the quirky moniker aside.
Not that we should be worried. The 28-year-old New Zealander, born Phillipa Brown, has some deliciously dreamy Eighties-tinged synth-pop singles under her belt including "Paris Is Burning" and "My Delirium", which have brought the punters in their droves to have some dance-floor fun.
Later on, when the house lights go up in between tracks, she squints through her heavy Chrissie Hynde-esque fringe, looks thoroughly uneasy before begging, "There's so many people, I can't handle it when you turn the lights on. Turn them off, I'm scared". This lack of pretension or posing is endearing though, and without an alter ego to show off, it makes the night about delivering the music. She takes a while to get into her stride and the first few lesser-known album tracks that are played out, including "Magic", "Professional Suicide" and "Manipulating Woman" blend into each other and are barely distinguishable; leaving a large part of the audience looking decidedly non-plussed. As soon as the first hit, "Dusk til Dawn", is played, though, the crowd, mainly made up of twenty- and thirtysomethings, refuse to stop dancing until it's kicking-out time.
It seems the favoured cover song for pop ladies in 2009 is Britney Spear's "Womanizer", and having already been given rather unfortunate live versions from Lily Allen and Girls Aloud this year, Ladyhawke doesn't buck the trend, with her awkward karaoke rendition.
There is a rather more successful cover in the encore, when Ladyhawke takes on her favourite Patti Smith song, "Free Money". She brings on a string section especially for it and although she struggles with some of the higher notes, it's an altogether more enjoyable addition to her rota of songs.
Finishing with her biggest hit, "My Delirium", she brings the audience to pandemonium, especially when streamers explode from the rafters in unison with the chorus. Everyone leaves in high spirits having spent an entertaining evening bopping along to some catchy, dance-friendly tunes – no one any the wiser as to who Ladyhawke really is.
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