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In concert: La Roux at 9:30 Club

By Aaron Leitko

la roux(All photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

Getting to 9:30 Club took some big-time effort on La Roux’s part. Over the past year the British electro-pop singer Elly Jackson has booked, then canceled, three separate gigs at the venue -- two bagged due to illness, one quashed by snowmageddon. When the ultra-coiffed 22 year-old finally stepped onto the stage before a capacity crowd Wednesday night -- her ginger hair whipped up like a bronzed ice-cream cone -- she didn’t make much noise. At least, not by normal pop-star standards.

But that’s a big part of her charm. Today’s mini-diva’s -- think Robyn, Lilly Allen, etc. -- lean hard on bombast. On stage, on record, and on Twitter, they keep the volume cranked. Jackson is more conservative. She has a wispy voice that’s unequipped for theatrical caterwauling. Her economical three-piece band -- two keyboard players and a synth-pad stroking drummer -- left her a lot of room to move on stage, but she seemed uncertain how to use it.

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Never mind her moves, though. La Roux is more of the introspective type. She performed a one-hour set of songs from her self-titled 2009 debut -- a record of smartly arranged pop that draws inspiration from ’80s new-wave acts like Yazoo and The Eurhythmics. What the tunes lacked in explosive attitude, they make up for in tenderness. Her singles -- club-ready fare like “Bulletproof” and “Quicksand” -- were steady enough to get the crowd bouncing. Three-hanky ballads -- the Prince-worthy “Armour Love” -- were targeted toward the wallflowers. She even whipped out a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” which, given her androgynous attire, made for some interesting gender-role bending.

La Roux is not a mope, but she’s also not a party girl, either. She’s the cool tom-boy that makes nerdiness seem cool and heartbreak seem endearing. Were you to cast a starlet-studded re-make of “Pretty in Pink,” La Roux would make a good Duckie. She might not pop on stage, but she’s got your headphones covered.

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By Aaron Leitko  | November 11, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  La Roux  
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I agree with this reviewer that she didn't exactly "pop" on stage. The show somehow wasn't energetic enough. But, no, I wouldn't say she has a "wispy voice." She has a strong voice, just, perhaps, not a strong stage presence. See, e.g.,

Posted by: USA117 | November 11, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

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