Photos (c) Shot Away
Dancing around the stage, she oozed energy and completely owned it.
Busy with bubbly blue lighting and the chatter of eager fans – the O2 Academy, Bristol was beginning to fill when I arrived, and already the stage and both overlooking balconies were lined. La Roux’s seven date UK tour comes after the release of her long awaited second album, ‘Trouble in Paradise’. Receiving positive attention from both reviewers and fans, yet fairly little air time; everyone is keen to see how well it earns its place before a crowd.
Singer and now solo act, Elly Jackson, is best known for the high pitched, fast-paced electronic sounds of ‘In for the Kill’ and ‘Bulletproof’. Her Grammy award winning debut threw her into the limelight at the age of 21 and left us wanting more, so we waited… five years later and was it all worth it? Her new album holds an altogether fuller funk; matched with groovy disco synth harmonies and stronger, more suggestive lyrical content. An altogether richer album; I’d say yes, it was well worth the wait, and Jackson knows it too.
The stage is backed with the same tropical scene as the new album cover; a paradise of palm trees, blue skies and hot yellow sand. The only additions to the beach are the three giant speakers which give the pop art setting a holiday party feel, teasing us with the energetic set to come – and when colourful support act, Meanwhile take to the stage, they have no trouble blending in.
A four piece sporting funky hairstyles and brilliantly outrageous fashion, Meanwhile is led by singer, writer and producer Tom Andrews. Glowing with 80s neo-psychedelia , Andrews has often been compared to Prince, even though he rates him low in the list of influences. An aspiring soundtrack writer, Andrews actually names his main inspiration as being Danny Elfman’s film scores and this visual element is evident throughout his tracks. His powerful vocals and confident, even Diva-esque stage presence, was pretty mesmerising at times.
Initially, I was unsure of what to make of the bands’ big entrance, but I soon found myself thoroughly enjoying the sheer fun that their set exudes. Packed with wavering synths, Meanwhile have their own tropical appeal and together with an enthusiastic reception from the crowd, I felt they were a great introduction for the night. A highlight for me was ‘Icarus’; it summons an incredible urge to sing and dance along from the first listen which I think is just brilliant. It is the second track unveiled from Meanwhile’s debut EP, ‘Element Yes’, which will be released on the 1st December.
The O2 filled up dramatically in the space of a toilet break and I had to fight my way back to a space. The early comers had the right idea as the venue now made a good view hard to get, but the atmosphere definitely made up for it. The room buzzed with excitement as the light show picked up and La Roux entered the stage. Dressed all in black, bright orange quiff swept gracefully back, she began with ‘Let me Down Gently’ and the crowd immediately joined in. Her new material is a clear success; La Roux was strikingly confident throughout her performance – dancing around the stage, she oozed energy and in my opinion completely owned it.
The set contained both old and new material including some of the less well-known songs from her first album, and in a live medium the combination really seemed to work. However the better known, ‘In for the Kill’ and ‘I’m not your toy’ got a far greater response from the crowd. These were amongst my highlights for the show as they held an almost nostalgic quality, along with ‘Sexotheque’ (which Jackson absolutely rocked), the authentic and heartfelt ‘Silent Partner’, and the Bowie channelling ‘Uptight Downtown’. When La Roux returned for an encore to the chants of “La Roux is on fire!” it was clear which song was missing from the set. A huge build-up of flashing lights and percussion eventually finished on her number one track ‘Bulletproof’ which I felt made a satisfying end to an overall amazing performance.
Check out ‘Uptight Downtown’ right here: