Monday, May 05, 2008

She's Good, She's Gone

Lykke Li/Dan Whitehouse, Glee Club (Studio), Birmingham, Friday April 25 2008, 8.30pm.

With the audience once again at the Glee Club reduced to a catatonic state in the face of the quasi-fascistic tendencies of the PA, local troubadour Dan Whitehouse works hard to get us onside with some upbeat banter and a set of earnest but intriguingly crafted songs. Last time we saw Dan (supporting Maria McKee last year) his microphone drooped spectacularly during the first number, but tonight a pianist extension in the form of June Mori is on hand to provide complement and uplift, raising the singer-songwriter's game to a different level.

Lykke Li is a nineteen year-old Swede who dresses like a bohemian raver and sings dancefloor-friendly pop with a little-girl voice and a sad, haunted facial expression. She has a backing band of three musicians who include a man with a big bad drum and a keyboard player with really nice shoes. Lykke sometimes also helps out with some impromptu and seemingly improvised percussion via her stiletto heels and, once or twice, by striking the pendants hanging from her neck.

These lo-fi, DIY trimmings add inclusive appeal to some sterling pop gems that here and there bring to mind the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Lene Lovich and Lamb. The set includes the hypnotic 'Dance Dance Dance' and her first single (and best known track over here) 'Little Bit' but it's 'I'm Good I'm Gone' (one of the best choons of the year so far, say we) which really brings proceedings to life - kooky charm; defiant sentiments and a contagious rhythm intertwining to devastating effect. But no sooner has she won us over and she's good to her word, dissappearing into the night leaving us after a short set which serves as a 'teaser' before her album hits in June and the touring/festival circuit begins in earnest.

Charmed, we're sure, but how to pronounce her name? Lykke as in lick-y or Lykke as in lick-er or liquor? It's not until we're safely back at the Parallax palatial home and we turn on Later...with Jools Holland that we discover the former Squeeze man introducing the young Swede in a pre-recorded show as Lykke Li as in lucky-Li. Fortune's sometimes hiding in the wee small hours of the night, and good to see we're paying the TV licence for something!

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