Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Lily Allen/New Young Pony Club: Leadmill, Sheffield, Saturday, October 28
Smile, the queen of the potty-mouths is in town. Just keep your tackle hidden and you might just enjoy her show
Tonight the eye-meltingly cool mixes with the soul-quakingly shite, as pink-haired, style-slut, grime-rock’n’pop fetishists throw immaculate shapes between Reef-glugging bullies and tabloid tarts. But that’s what you get with Lily Allen – she’s an icon, she’s a pop star, and, for better or for worse, she’s a celebrity, uniting cool and uncool, NME readers and tossers in equal share. We can’t blame her for the idiotic pockets of this crowd; you can’t choose your ‘fans’.
You can, however, choose your support act and New Young Pony Club are the pick of the pending pop-figureheads of the post-Franz, post-Icicles, post-Girls Aloud (even post-Lily Allen) world of 2007, where clothes, dancing and pop hooks are free to sexually transmit themselves to even the most Google-confoundingly underground acts (see also :( and Hadouken!). Tonight they’re aloof, engaging, dangerous and fun – everything that any pop band should be.
“I wanna see some sweat, Sheffield!” rasps the Pony Club captain Tahita – moves by disco dementia, soul by Donna Summer, and half her head shaved by Tony And Why?, she’s an icon just waiting to burst from Dalston to drivetime – “I’m gonna be out collecting all the sweat later.” If she’s planning on breaking out the squeegee and bucket after the set, then this semi-haired maniac is going to be here until new rave’s glowschtick is older than The Fratellis’ childhood memories. Because even as liberally peppered with boozy narcs as this room is, NYPC’s progressive synths are making it move. And why not, this outfit aches with good-time intensity, like a Balearic boat party. From the magnetic female trio completed by Lou on keys and Sarah on drums, to Andy and Igor’s bass-grinding porno chic – all moustaches and stunna shades at night – they strut over this audience with both smut and glamour. Tahita is a monster of style, pounding her body across the stage like a mannequin attempting to escape its plastic confines, intoning erotically on frozen milk-erection-fest ‘Ice Cream’, bellowing soulfully through ‘Descend’ and encouraging complex handclap contributions from the enthusiastic but inept melange beneath her. “This is a track called ‘Peacemaker’,” she announces with a London twang, “We were going to call it ‘The Bomb’, but the record company wouldn’t let us in case people get scared and don’t buy it.” Modular needn’t have worried, this symphony of synthetic sex and melodrama could be called ‘Paedophile Grannies Are Eating The Pope’ and it would still have you grinning so widely the top of your head would fall off.
It’s a tough act to follow, but if you’re name-checked in the tabloids as regularly as Lily Allen is, perhaps being overshadowed isn’t a pressing concern. Bounding onstage, pint in hand, and backed by a seven-piece boxfresh band in front of more neon light sticks than a Klaxons photoshoot, she bursts into ‘LDN’ happily uncaring that the “sun in the sky” hasn’t burnt these Yorkshire plains since July. Bopping across the stage, she sings and she raps, despite the fact she’s not particularly good at either. Who cares when she’s leading her mixed audience into a northern reprise of the Notting Hill Carnival, as if it was being guest-curated by Popjustice!, Popworld and Popbitch. ‘Nana’s A Window Shopper’’s OAP mockery remains about as tasteful as Madonna’s shopping spree through the schools of Malawi, but somehow it’s become a set highlight for this crowd, who pout along to every word. ‘Smile’ is an attitude-filled, solid-gold smash, while ‘Alfie’’s pissed waltz unites record collector and £11.99 man in a swaying sing-song. Things dip during the lowest common indienominator acoustic medley of Keane’s ‘Everybody’s Changing’ and The Kooks’ ‘Naïve’, but even this taste-holocaust is saved by Lily’s transparent shame at having to go through with it. The woman is so charmingly unpolite, that just watching her bully kids at the back of the bus would be worth a £10 ticket price.
As ‘Not Big’ swings towards its climax, the ape-ish, lager’d thickos start up their terrace chant-style ode to Lily with the tune of ‘Macarena’. Lily looks down at them: “Whenever I sing that song
I can always tell who has a big dick and who hasn’t, and yours sirs are tiny aren’t they?” Yes, the world is full of pricks, but provided we’ve got girls like Lily to put them in their place, things are going to be just fine.
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality
A still-vital John Lydon rages towards retirement on a saucy, scuzzy new album
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (26/8/2015)
Oxford's finest flit between gnarly rock and frustrating slickness on an often-brilliant fourth album