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La Roux - KOKO, London - February 3 2015 (Live Review)

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 Written by Huw Baines

"Remember 2009?"

Yeah, but things were different back then. La Roux, fronted by a sneeringly cool Elly Jackson, were bright young things, chart darlings and future superstars.

Now, with years of performance anxiety behind her, Jackson is flying solo. Ben Langmaid is gone, while their self-titled debut's hit-making antics have been upstaged by 'Trouble In Paradise', a knowing, technicolor record stuffed to bursting point with brilliant pop songs.

So, when Jackson asks a capacity KOKO crowd if they remember 2009, the question is double-edged. Tonight, as she draws a line under touring for 'Trouble In Paradise' - for the time being at least - it's clear that La Roux mark two is in rude health, but that the road to this point has been one of wear and tear.

Jackson, though, wears those scars with rare style and panache. The falsetto that once fled from her rings clear and true; the new material glimmers and the old stuff feels alive again.

Her band, including a Shoreditch David Byrne on guitar and an arch, black-clad keyboard player who spends the whole show under the brim of a boater, is a killer unit, with the frenetic drummer, William Bowerman, its beating heart.

Cruel Sexuality, Sexotheque, Uptight Downtown and the opener, Let Me Down Gently, all grow in stature, filled out live and delivered by Jackson mid-sidestep. The quality of the record dismissed any lingering thoughts that her latest ‘80s revival was mere pastiche, and they are dead and buried by the time Kiss And Not Tell rings around the venue.

Quicksand and I’m Not Your Toy are buffed to a new shine, with added low end and Jackson’s relentless moves suggesting that, had things worked out differently, they would have made fine additions to album two.

The ‘Trouble In Paradise’ era may not have gone entirely to plan, but it did give us one of the best pop records of recent times. Jackson’s next move really is anyone’s guess. On this evidence, she could do pretty much whatever the fuck she wants.





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