All that glitters...Roundhouse, Manchester (May 16)

Santogold Pic: Claire Morris
Everyone’s talking about Santogold right now. Hype? You bet. But it’s her musical past (she worked in A&R, sang in ska-punk band Stiffed and wrote for Lily Allen and Ashlee Simpson, but you knew that already, didn’t you?) that’s set tongues wagging as much as the quality of her songs. Thankfully, this audience seems more interested in the music than the back story, because even though her debut LP only hit the shelves four days ago, they shout all of Santi White’s words right back at her.

Successfully translating a record as multi-faceted as ‘Santogold’ to the live arena was always going to be a tough proposition. And though you can’t fault her ability to work a crowd (“You’re the best audience in the UK so far!” she tells us repeatedly), there’s still the impression we’re watching karaoke – albeit really good karaoke – rather than a bona fide live show tonight.

Backed only by a pair of dancers/backing singers and a DJ, it’s a stripped-back set-up, one that doesn’t really suit the in-your-face pop explosion of the album. If they were augmented by live musicians, it’s easy to imagine songs like ‘LES Artistes’ (she should give Yeah Yeah Yeahs a call!) and ‘Say Aha’ (Reverend And The Makers, perhaps?) taking the roof off venues this size. However, tonight’s minimalist stage show is a similar experience to listening to the album in the comfort of your own living room.

Finishing off with a mesmerising ‘Creator’, there’s no doubting the quality of Santogold’s material, nor that she’s a star in the making. Yet on this evidence there’s still some distance left to run before she makes good on her promise to “deliver the explosion” in that song.

Rob Webb

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