“Thank you all for sticking around since 2009,” says Elly Jackson a quarter of the way into her set at Leeds Beckett University.
Back promoting La Roux’s second album, Trouble In Paradise, a lot has changed since the South Londoner first appeared on the scene. Her musical partner Ben Langmaid left on acrimonious terms, the pop landscape shifted towards retro synth sounds, and she temporarily lost her infamous falsetto due to performance anxiety.
There’s no evidence of unease tonight as she energetically slides across the stage, making sure not to dislodge her trademark quiff. Buoyed by an enthusiastic crowd who readily join in with her chant of, “La Roux! La Roux! La Roux is on fire!” during technical problems, she delivers an hour of spiky electro-pop.
Still firmly fixed in an era of Soft Cell (Colourless Colour) and New Order (set closer Bulletproof), her sound has nonetheless evolved to include hints of the Caribbean on Sexotheque and Cruel Sexuality; a move that’s reflected in the palm fronds on the backdrop.
Her basic template has also come to incorporate indie-funk on Tropical Chancer while opening number Let Me Down Gently, a slow burn synth ballad, offers a suitably dark framework for lyrics that over the course of the set reference control freaks and infidelities.
Elsewhere these bruised subject matters are hidden behind a uniformly upbeat disco sound, with Kiss And Not Tell alluding to SAW’s hit factory. It’s a tinniness that defined breakthrough singles Quicksand and In For The Kill, for which she holds out her microphone to the baying crowd.
The gesture receives a fanatical response that threatens to drown out her four-piece backing band but, if the audience’s loyalty isn’t always fathomable, then it does demonstrate the indefinable magic of pop.