La Roux

A top tip who's actually worth the hype for once. Notting Hill Arts Club, London Thursday February 5

Sometimes the actuality of something never lives up to the anticipation of it. And sometimes it does. “You want to fuck me hard?” asks a bemused Elly Jackson of the crowd. She’s mid-way through her first-ever London show and the cat-calls are coming, er, hard and fast.

In an entirely non-creepy way, it’s a rhetorical question. Because right now, we, as an indie nation love La Roux. We love the helium-infused take on ‘When Doves Cry’ that is ‘Quicksand’, we love the beaming red quiff that seems to levitate off her head, we love

the fact she’s much more believable as a Big-In-2009 prospect than some other female electro-pop stars we could mention (cough… Little Boots). We love her so much that we might actually be receiving a cease-and-desist notice in case we ‘do a Glenn Close’. We love her so much that… that… we can only be horribly disappointed by her live performance. Can’t we?

The signs are not good. The stage set-up is less than auspicious, with things looking suspiciously like a glorified PA. The ‘band’ seems to consist of little more than La Roux singing over what might as well be a backing track while two Heartbreak-looking electro gimps thump down on keyboards. And should our untouchable pop diva really admit, halfway through the gig, that she’s forgotten to do her flies up?

And yet, through some alchemy, the show totally transcends its limitations. This is partly to Elly charming the disco pants off us; her post-song banter shows her to be genuinely shocked at the crowd’s reception. She says ‘This is AMAZING!’ at least 12 times and chastises them for singing along to a song they shouldn’t know (yet they do).

But more than that, it’s her songs that really seal the deal. ‘Toy’ and ‘Bulletproof’ sparkle with a joie de vivre that makes us want to leap up and hug the sun. Like some prancing hybrid of Erasure and The Knife, they are little bits of melodic heaven, bound up by a fake bravado that breaks just like a little girl.

“You want to fuck me hard?” she continues in a tone that’s both sarcastic and amused. “Well, that’s never going to happen.” OK, scratch that part about disappointment. We love her even more now.


Priya Elan