La Roux – Nottingham Rock City, Tuesday November 17.
“Was anyone at my last gig in Nottingham?” she asked, before admitting that “it was my shitttest gig ever.” True enough, La Roux’s show at the Rescue Rooms in April had been plagued by technical faults – but in a strange sort of way, the fiasco had played to her strengths as a personality, highlighting the flawed frailty that lies at the heart of her appeal.
Promoted to Rock City for their autumn tour, Elly Jackson and her band encountered no further hitches – although we could have done without the absurd forty-five minute wait which followed the support band. Performing in front of an impressively slick illuminated backdrop, her hair teased into a sky-high vertical quiff that even the X Factor’s John and Edward would have baulked at, La Roux presented herself as a fully fledged pop star.
Unfortunately, the scale of the show also magnified Elly’s limitations as a singer and performer. Vocally sharp and shrill, with indifferent phrasing and a grating lack of pitch control, she sounded like someone who was straining to sing above her natural range. And in terms of showmanship, her lack of training and absence of natural charisma left her unable to establish any meaningful rapport with the crowd.
Luckily, there was still enough goodwill in the room to tide the band over, and enough strong material in the La Roux songbook to overcome the amateurishness of Elly’s delivery. Colourless Colour marked the turning point, and the wildly popular In For The Kill ensured that the main set ended on a rapturous high.
An extended version of the unassailably brilliant Bulletproof was saved for the encore, reminding us of why we all fell for La Roux in the first place. But after a meagre forty-seven minutes on stage – scarcely longer than the gap between the acts – it was difficult not to feel a little bit short-changed, and a little bit deflated.