Friday, October 10, 2008

LadyhawkePip Matters

Lykke Li/Yoav, Glee Club, Hirst Street, Birmingham, Sunday October 5 2008, 8.30pm.
Ladyhawke/Deluka/Death Ohh Eff/The Electrilickers, 444 Club@The Rainbow, Digbeth, Birmingham, Monday October 6 2008, 8pm.

In the few months since we last saw Lykke Li at Glee, the seated-only studio has made way for a packed standing-room-only show in the bigger room, the crowd here less through curiousity and more from conviction, and the conversion sees the Swede in noticably more relaxed and engaging form. But before all that, we have Yoav, a tidy, bookish young man born in Israel but brought up in South Africa and New York. His music takes on a similarly hybrid form, folk, blues and R&B fused into intriguing songs enhanced by the singer-songwriter fully utilising plentiful effects pedals to create an atmospheric soundscape high on intrigue but a little short on memorable melody.

There a few people who could get away with making an entrance in a Freddy Parrot hat and shapeless outfit, but Lykke Li is one of the number who can, and it's safe to assume she knows it. The set opens with 'Dance, Dance, Dance' given a louder, squelchier, more 'electro' feel than the recorded version, paving the way for a lively performance aimed at dusting off the 'depression' she senses from the audience. 'I'm Good I'm Gone' and 'Breaking It Up' offer predictably giddy thrills, the soon-to-be-re-released 'Little Bit' is already treated like a greatest hit, the dubby, hypnotic pull of 'Complaints Department' is another winner on the night, and there's even room for a tongue-in-cheek cameo of Duffy's 'Mercy' sneaked into closing cover of 'Can I Kick It?'. There are officially no more excuses left not to invest in her debut album 'Youth Novels'.

The ElectrilickersNext night, head over to The Rainbow in Digbeth for a special 444 Club gig which sees three local hopefuls supporting touring Kiwi star Pip Brown aka Ladyhawke, here to promote her self-titled debut released the previous week. The cunningly-curated cabaret begins with The Electrilickers who operate at the exact intersection between the homespun lo-fi charm of Kate Nash and the harder-partying nu rave aesthetic, a formula which works on the night for two simple reasons: their tunes are cool and the singer's hot. The ecstasy throes of 'Constant Disco' are a suitable climax to a set that provides more fizz and tingle than licking your way through a battery factory.

Meet up with Kate and Chris from newly-rejuvanated StRANGEtIME as Death Ohh Eff make their entrance. Your crumbling correspondent may be getting old, but do bands have to look so young? These guys don't even look old enough to be policemen, but somewhere along the line they've obviously crammed in some intensive education on how to work a crowd with an energetic, keyboard-led set full of bounce, attitude and harmonies. Tremendous fun, although it was all 'a little bit Nathan Barley' for some.

We haven't seen Deluka for a couple of years, since when they've developed some extra balls, a tune on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto IV, and much tippin' and toutin' among the music press. They're tighter and rockier than the preceding acts with a stronger drive towards an anthemic punch, although they only hotwire into our hearts during the closing two numbers before leaving the crowd panting for more.

Headliner Ladyhawke has a different problem, and it's one that similarly affects her debut album. Her songs are consistently strong in terms of memorable tunes and anthemic power, but she operates within such a tight formula and poodle-permed 80s mindset, you feel like you've seen and heard enough about halfway through, even though she saves belters like 'Paris Is Burning' and 'My Delirium' for the concluding double-whammy. Maybe a little more personality in the performance and more depth in the lyrics would help develop a higher-level of emotional engagement to undertow the undoubted heft of the choonage.

With many thanks to Shakeypix for kind permission to use some of his brilliant shots from the night in this review.

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