She’s got the tunes, but not the confidence. Yet...Komedia, Brighton (September 30)
Ladyhawke is away. Like any superheroic alter ego, there’s always a high comedy moment mid-way through the second series when the Batsuit gets accidentally locked in a cupboard, and our hero has to fight with mere conventional powers. Tonight is that night. “Oh… I always feel silly coming off when I know it’s not actually my last song,” Pip Brown whispers as she returns to encore, in a voice not much louder than a dormouse requesting the collection plate in church. She’s a pretty apologetic presence. If she got her own way, you sense, we’d all be made to turn around so she could avoid eye contact. A roomful of punters facing the wrong way – that’s not really rock’n’ roll… is it?
And yet, and yet, and yet… she’s also remarkably easy to love. Truest beauty is unaware of its own value, and Pip has that quality in spades. A studio tinkerer and tune-obsessive, she’s the girl who fell to Earth; devotedly, myopically all about the music. “No, I don’t read any of the album reviews,” she shrugs pre-show. “They make me too nervous – though people have told me they were good.” For once, it’s an easy statement to believe. And yet, and yet… The image that’s burned into our retinas by her exit isn’t even Ladyhawke. It’s her more charismatic guitarist. The frontwoman blurs to background – a set of details half-remembered – plain black shirt, haywain fringe, a set of pearly outsize teeth, clinging to a mic stand like she’s clasping a glass of wine at an awkward dinner party.
Doubly frustrating when you consider she’s this season’s MGMT – possessor of an album that makes good on the tunes to an extent the armchair pundits try and tell us the record industry doesn’t ‘do’ anymore: a start-to-finish excellent buffet of pop hooks a dead milkman could whistle in his eternal sleep. ‘Professional Suicide’ is Numanoid synth-cubism at its finest. ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ is just really, really, really great. Taken in their live form, the likes of ‘Magic’ and ‘Manipulating Woman’ are so guitar-laden they feel like bejewelled grunge – a diamanté flannel shirt. But it’s still only during the penultimate ‘Paris Is Burning’ that everyone starts jumping. To own that many hooks and not reel your audience in feels like travesty. In common with the MGMT boys, she’s destined to frustrate those who go looking for an instant syringe of gigging adrenaline to the heart. In a similar way to their much-improved festival showings, she may still need to grow into her new skin. And when she does, she will undoubtedly smash our repenting brains to smithereens.