Reviewed on Saturday June 14
Louisa Allen – better known as Foxes – arrived to squeals of delight from an already-full venue. All of 25 years old, she sauntered and shimmied her way around the stage, occasionally throwing in some poised hand choreography like a hybrid of Florence Welch and a dancer in Swan Lake. Alas, there seemed to be a lot more to these aesthetics of the performance than the music itself. Backed only by a keyboardist and a drummer, the songs felt hollow and murky, rather than sparkly and pristine as they appear on record. Even the moment the audience had clearly been waiting for – a performance of her Zedd collaboration, ‘Clarity’ – was a letdown due to its awkward lower key and the cheap karaoke backing track. The finest moment of the set came with a strange medley/mashup of Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ and Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’. Do with this information what you will.
“All of my flaws are laid out one by one…” sang Bastille’s Dan Smith. This, unfortunately, was as indicative of the evening’s proceedings as anything. What they’ve developed for their current live show needs substantial work. For one, it is an eyesore – not a slight on the band’s handsomeness, but rather, the horrific light show. Strobe lights blared through every other track, and the blowout of golden light with every thud of drums grew very tiresome and literally difficult to watch. The music itself was delivered capably but all too safely. Many of the songs’ finer points were lost in translation, half-heartedly recited with the feeling of simply going through the motions – especially when the band moved into tepid ballad territory and the iPhone-waving began.
And yet – and there’s always an “and yet” – the grand finale felt like a brief moment of greatness. A cover of DeBarge’s ‘Rhythm Of The Night’ sent the audience into a frenzy, as did the song that started it all, ‘Pompeii’. One tends to forget what a cracking song the latter is until moments like these. What follows next is up to the band itself, but the best advice to pass on is this: less style, more substance.