Live Review: Lady Sovereign

Concorde 2, Brighton, Saturday, June 6

What’s up with Sov these days? After establishing herself as one of London’s premier purveyors of acerbic wit, there was a sudden series of bizarre onstage episodes, including a spat with some dude dressed as a doughnut and a verbal attack on NYC while in, er, NYC. Subsequently ditched by Def Jam, she then encountered pretty much widespread indifference to comeback record ‘Jigsaw’ (these pages excepted…). With many young artists, this would be enough to send them scuttling back to the safety of their MySpace profiles, but not Louise Harman. We should have known this one wouldn’t go quietly.

Kitted out in her most eccentric headgear to date (bright red barnet, sideways cap, purple shades and woolly, tasselled monkey hat), the titchy MC otherwise known as “Essoveeeee” bounds out in an explosion of smoke and strobes, screaming and hollering into the microphone and lobbing pint after pint, repeatedly spraying the first five rows with beer. Even if you had misgivings about the new material, it’d be hard to deny ‘Let’s Be Mates’ makes for a compelling and ferocious opener, especially followed by ‘I Got You Dancing’, which does exactly what it says on the tin, and a punchy version of old fave ‘Random’. By this point, the Concorde 2 is a mess of sweaty boys and girls, but mostly girls, winding and grinding to pummelled live rhythms, laptop whizzkiddery courtesy of Sov’s DJ pal and the leading lady’s trademark cheeky rhymes and banter. “Anyways, can I borrow a comb?” she asks one punter. “You’d better not have nits.”

Then she goes and blows it. Again. The set is already short at just over 40 minutes, and is torpedoed by a spate of musical clangers, including a pointless cover of Metro Station’s ‘Shake It’, a half-hearted ‘Jigsaw’ and the decidely mediocre ‘So Human’, ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Student Union’. Yes, Sov pulls it back at the last minute, whipping people into a frenzy again with closer ‘Public Warning’ but, really, on such erratic form, you’ve got to wonder exactly how many chances she has left. Camilla Pia