LIVE REVIEW: La Roux, London, 12/11/14

If you’re La Roux, opening the gig with Let Me Down Gently may seem counter intuitive – who opens a gig with a mega-ballad?  Yet when that massive pause was filled with screaming fans before launching into a stonking electro beat, you know you’re in for an awesome evening.

Not long after that, Elly Jackson orders the crowd to “have a fucking good time” – the only time she broke up the set.  In her own words, “it’s all about the music” and with a setlist of consistently high quality pop from both the recent Trouble In Paradise and her self-titled debut, “a fucking good time” was an understatement.

That said, Jackson does lack a little in the performance stakes.  She undoubtedly has stage presence, with plenty of energetic dancing and posing, but she mostly played to her band (themselves excellent) and lacked something of a connection to the audience (perhaps equally the fault of the flat-floored venue that limits the audience’s view).  It’s not helped by a sometimes wispy vocal that doesn’t quite stand up to the electronic production.  With such massive tunes, you’d expect a front-woman to be a little less shy and withheld, though she seemed visibly humbled by the hugely positive reaction from the crowd.

But as Jackson said herself, it’s all about the music and it’s there that you’ll find her personality.  That’s particularly true of the new material – the production may seem clean and clinical at times, but there’s candid emotion brimming from the lyrics whether in the aforementioned Let Me Down Gently, the playground melodies of Kiss And Not Tell, or the richly layered Cruel Sexuality.  Slower tracks like Paradise Is You or The Feeling may have been absent, but they would only have broken up the string of uptempo bangers.  Psychedelic lighting bathed the band in a tropical glow for a fun, party atmosphere that was only exacerbated by tracks like lead single Uptight Downtown and a lengthy rendition of Silent Partner that ended the main set on a massive high.  Jackson sure as hell knows how to write a good chorus.

That’s true on both of her albums.  Though predominantly material from the new album, the setlist was littered with the likes of In For The Kill, Quicksand and I’m Not Your Toy, which all still sound amazing today.  There’s so much 80s inspired music these days, but La Roux stands above the rest for her solid and honest songwriting.  Ending it all with Bulletproof may seem backwards with a new album to promote, but it’s testament to her skill as a creator of hooks that the crowd still knew every word.  La Roux really is one of the UK’s premiere electro pop artists – it’s just a shame that most of the UK don’t seem to know it yet.

Ed Nightingale

Photo credit: Annabel Staff / Getty Images

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