View a slideshow from the concert here.
With Francis & the Lights and Panic Bomber
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Monday, November 1, 2010
Better than: A canceled show.
La Roux's Elly Jackson is a radiant creature, from her soap-white skin, sturdy fingers, elastic legs, and, naturally, her perfectly coifed rust-colored hair. Heartbreak is her songbook, and she wears it on her face convincingly.
Notably omitted from that list, however, is her voice. Over the course of her brisk 45-minute set at the Culture Room on Monday night -- rescheduled from August 4 -- the hand-held mic in her hand almost seemed to cover her entire face and was practically in her mouth. She admitted at one point that her voice was still not 100 percent, and it was too bad, because all other aspects of the performance were filled with a geniality and nuance few 22-year-olds can pull off. And the audience was too busy singing along with every word to care.
With a smartly dressed trio of backing electronic players giddily accompanying her, Jackson gradually worked up a froth with some Bowie-style dancing. It was welcomed following Francis & the Lights, a soulful (although that might be generous) duo that brought back not entirely unpleasant memories of Fine Young Cannibals and some Peter Cetera synths but is still figuring some things out in a live setting. Frontman Francis Farewell Starlite, whose mountain of curly hair is modeled after the Ghostbusters' Egon Spengler, failed to ignite the crowd and hid behind his mostly preprogrammed keyboard. He came closest to some chemistry with "The Top" but did not perform it like this.
Even if I'm reluctant to see another Francis & the Lights show, I will go see La Roux again -- in spite of Monday night's wrinkles. During a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb," Jackson finally
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seemed to establish bit of Annie Lennox-in-training poise. Regularly flirting and grasping hands with the crowd, at one point she asked with a scowl "Who's smoking weed?" Soon, she broke into a broad smile -- strategically withheld for most of the night -- that brought the screaming crowd even higher.
make England look like fucking bitches," Jackson said, before launching
into "In for the Kill." And her poses, stage-stalking, and even an impromptu autograph signing made it clear that she doesn't suffer fucking bitches lightly. Forming a tight bond with the audience without a full voice looked effortless nearly up to the end. By the time "Bulletproof" was finished, which featured plenty of feeding her mic to the crowd, she was visibly exhausted. But then, from under that stiff upper lip, that smile came back one final time, and it was delightful.
The crowd: Some still wearing Halloween makeup. Meticulously groomed, and in one case, a girl managed to fit a Mohawk/dreadlock/pompadour/laser line concoction on her head in a completely tasteful manner.
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Political plug: Opener Panic Bomber's MGMT-lite set took a strange detour when singer Richard Haig announced "Vote for Alex Sink tomorrow because that chick's important."
Random detail: Prince's Rave un2 the Year 2000 DVD, which features the enigmatic star in a blue pantsuit and basically boning his own guitar, was more engaging than most of Francis & the Lights' performance. Is the Culture Room staff trying to tell the kids something?
Personal bias: No "Quicksand" from La Roux?!
La Roux Set List
As if by Magic
I'm Not Your Toy
Under My Thumb
In for the Kill