The surprise new star of M83’s headline set at the John Peel Stage on Saturday isn’t ‘Do It, Try It’ – or even any other of the French synthpop group’s songs. It’s their French-Vietnamese collaborator Mai Lan, whose debut was released four years ago and who features on several tracks of M83’s recent seventh album ‘Junk’.
Lan arrives lithely, mid-set, grooving out across the stage after a string of older hits from the band including ‘Reunion’, ‘Steve McQueen’ and electro banger ‘We Are The Sky’. She performs a string of three songs with the band fronted ordinarily by Anthony Gonzalez, then leaves: no more, no less. First comes the weird funk of ‘Bibi The Dog’, for which she wears some damn cool Lennon-style shades. They come off for the next two songs – her ‘closer’ taking the form of ‘Go!’, the countdown-based single released in April that also features guitar god Steve Vai.
But it’s in the middle of those two, with the unfussed drawl/chant of ‘Laser Gun’ that shows what Lan is capable of, as she uses her platform to toy with the heaving crowd. At the start of June she released a frenetic single, ‘Technique’, that you might consider perplexing if you haven’t seen her perform; although she doesn’t play it tonight you can see her really putting a crowd to work with it.
It’s obviously not all about Mai Lan though, and there are highlights of M83’s set that more than match Lan’s three-song stint. ‘Midnight City’ is the predictable high-point, the song that a lot of the public probably know from Made In Chelsea – but Gonzalez’s band also excels at a sort of slow euphoria – especially in ‘Outro’. This synth work is just a little bit pensive and gets the crowd in a cosmic mindset that is totally opposite to the ultra-personal emotive stuff that Adele offers at the same time at the Pyramid. And for us here at the John Peel Stage, that’s ideal.