Gig review: LoneLady at Beacons Metro festival at Headrow House, Leeds

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There can be few venues as well suited to LoneLady’s dark electro-pop than Headrow House. The city’s newest venue, which is based in a converted mill, perfectly mirrors the urban wastelands that Julie Ann Campbell details on her breakthrough second album.

Indebted to her hometown’s musical heritage, Hinterlands is the sound of St. Vincent if she’d been raised in Manchester. Full of loose grooves and fat funk bass-lines, tracks such as ‘Groove It Out’ and ‘Bunkerpop’ are summer club anthems that have been reworked for dystopian grey skies.

Where her playing on the album recalls Robert Fripp’s spidery guitar lines on David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), live the post-punk fret-work is closer to that of Savages by way of A Certain Ratio. The icy synth lines that wash over ‘Silvering’, meanwhile, are drawn straight from Joy Division’s Closer.

Rather than being slavishly derivative she nonetheless updates the city’s cold industrialism with an accessibility and inventiveness in her choice of unpolished beats and samples, including cello loops.

In the hands of her three-piece backing band this fusion of past and contemporary sounds is lent a brittle tension that stops the material short of being outright dance. The precariousness of its success, however, is noted when the set takes a mid-set dip as she draws on tracks from the skeletal post-punk indie of her debut album Nerve Up.

Since its release in 2010 she’s clearly gained a newfound musical confidence that’s given her a defined vision of exactly how the songs should sound. “More vocals. Less keys. Less bass,” she barks after the opening number ‘Into The Cave.’

One of the few things she says all night, her lack of stage presence is currently one of the minor obstacles between her and crossover success.

Gig date: October 2

Jesca Hoop at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Picture: Gary Brightbart

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