Annie: 93 Feet East: Thursday, December 15 2005

Sugar high-inducing Norwegian dance-popper takes a shot at Madge’s crown and knocks it clean off

Before Madonna rediscovered her NYC disco biscuits down the back of her manor’s reconditioned sofa, and before art rock transformed itself into art-grot rioting (complete with severed toes), Annie’s ‘Anniemal’ album began art pop’s move into the wild.

Following in the grand tradition of Europop heavyweights like Moroder, Abba and Kraftwerk, her winking, witty pop zoomed from the Fjords straight to the hearts of many. Hipsters loved the fact that it referenced the right Smash Hits centrefold stars of yore (Bananarama, Tom Tom Club, The Human League) while dance titans like DFA 1979, Epworth and Tiga couldn’t resist the Norwegian’s naughty naïve melodies and Day-Glo charms. So really, the only question that remains to be asked tonight is: do Annie’s cheek-chewing pop anthems work live?

With her heady arsenal of should-have-been-hits, the answer is a definite “yes”. From the moment the “Brrrrrrrap!” of real drums shocks opener ‘Always Too Late’ into submission, it’s clear that Annie and her two-piece band (a chubby cowboy-looking DJ wearing bondage and a drummer/guitarist who looks like Mick Hucknall) have found the right mix of DIY simplicity and at–the-Danceteria-in-1982 good-vibeology.

“London, I want you to dance for me tonight!” she whispers in her Nordic lilt, before launching into an irresistible version of her Richard X-assisted triumph ‘Chewing Gum’, and the crowd can’t help but oblige. You won’t find any syncopated dance routines here – that’s why she so ably carries both the X Factor-character desperation of ‘Me Plus One’ as well as the Minipop’s sweet-16 angst of forthcoming single ‘Crush’.

A one-woman Girls Aloud armed with the formidable likes of the Visconti/Bowie tick of ‘The Greatest Hit’, the conga-line fury of ‘Come Together’ and the sleazy ‘The Wedding’, her dazzling array of pop jewels shine like stars tonight. And as the crowd get sucked into her vortex of fun, the only question that remains to be asked is: “Madonna who?”.

Priya Elan