Live Review: La Roux, Limelight Belfast, 18/11/2014









London band La Roux have come a long way since their mass critical acclaim way back in 2009, in fact many might be surprised to hear that they released a new album this summer.

‘Trouble In Paradise’ doesn’t stray too far from the electro and synth that lies at the heart of the La Roux we know, yet the album has sold much less in comparison to their 2009 self titled album that boasted of hits such as ‘Bulletproof’ and ‘In For The Kill’. Promoting their new album, the band took on the modest venue of Limelight Belfast.

Support act and one man band Meanwhile started the night out with boundless energy and dynamism, it was easy to see how he has been named as ‘the new Prince’. Infused with 80’s-esque synthy goodness, Meanwhile is really the perfect support act for La Roux.

Frontman Tom Andrews’ passion for the stage and his bid to get the audience going makes you want to dismiss The Guardian’s statement that “no whiteboy mini-me Prince has ever made it big.” Touring with La Roux is undoubtedly going to bring big things for Meanwhile, and while finding him on the BBC’S Sound of 2015 might be a bit ambitious right now, it would be unsurprising if you were to find him amongst the BBC’s Sound of 2016 at least.

Attracting a mixed crowd of young and old, it was easy to see how despite coming back from hiatus La Roux have garnered for themselves a more distilled fan base that is looking beyond the big 2009 hits to experience the new offerings from ‘Trouble In Paradise.’

Still donning her signature quiff hairstyle, lead singer Elly Jackson hasn’t abandoned her tomboy image that summed up the band for so many. However, opening with an extremely moody and tense ‘Let Me Down Gently’ she is a far cry from the fast paced, electro infused vibes of the first album. At only 26, Jackson is still a young artist, but from the onset she gives off the impression that she has really matured as a musician. Gone is the Bowie-esque make up and elaborate Gaga-esque outfits adorned in her music videos. Instead, she is almost solemnly focused upon the music as opposed to the image.

Despite this, strobe lighting featured heavily in the show as expected and really added to the more energetic songs such as ‘I’m Not Your Toy’ and ‘Cruel Sexuality’ in which the spotlight idiosyncratically lingered upon Jackson’s face for an extended amount of time during a guitar solo which gave an almost eerie effect. All lighting cut at the end of most songs really emphasising the transition the band have made from the eclectic vibes of 2009 to the newly acquired tension and moody atmosphere of now.

With very little engagement with the audience aside from some obligatory high fives with the audience members at the front, you get the feeling that Jackson isn’t totally comfortable being, (in all senses of the word), in the ‘Limelight.’ The Belfast Telegraph outlined how she didn’t enjoy a lot of the realities that come with having a hit as big as ‘Bulletproof’ and how she suffered panic attacks from her newly acquired celebrity status back in 2009.

However, the band kept ‘Bulletproof’ for their encore and didn’t upturn expectations too much by avoiding it altogether. For many in the crowd this is likely to have been the song they waited all night for, yet for Jackson it’s likely to be the song that she dreaded. Nonetheless, it felt as though there couldn’t be a soul in the room who wasn’t belting out the chorus, indeed, after almost a decade since its release, fans haven’t grown tired of the song.

And with a quick bow in unison, the elusive band had disappeared. The minimalistic show they performed did not disappoint and with a set list that encompassed old and new songs, the audience were given a nostalgic taste of the La Roux they fell in love with and then eased into their new matured image that is quite undoubtedly being sought. Despite the smaller venue than what her 2009 fame would have demanded and a new album that reached No. 6, you get the feeling that La Roux have downgraded but that they are definitely content with it.

Photos by Scott Moore


Sexual consent classes: A step in the right direction or just insulting?

Sex – It’s a subject that isn’t particularly easy to discuss at the best of times,yet it is one that is unquestionably expected to be understood among young adults. Oxford and Cambridge introducing sexual consent classes however is a direct challenge to the dominant stereotype of sexually promiscuous, sex savvy students.

Our contradicting culture of overtly sexualised images in the media yet a simultaneous tight lipped reluctance for ardent conversation on the topic of sex has directly translated into problems for young people. On the one hand it is appealing to forge an attitude of flippancy towards sex in order perhaps to fit in when there is a culture across campuses that promotes it, yet it is ultimately one that is having unnerving outcomes.

Cases of rape and sexual assault on university campuses have been making headlines a great deal lately. Most notably the case of Columbia University student and rape victim, Emma Sulkowicz, who has been carrying her mattress to all of her classes in a bid to attain justice by convincing the university to expel the rapist.

American university culture thrives upon ‘frats’ or ‘fraternities’, the men who join these fraternities are, according to CNN, three times more likely to commit rape. It seems the UK’s equivalent of fraternities is the LAD culture of booze, misogyny and casual sex. Having this as a positive social life to strive for for within a university culture where minds are supposed to be broadened as opposed to narrowed is a sobering insight. Indeed, NUS research conducted has identified that 50 per cent of participants in a study on university culture confirmed that “prevailing sexism, ‘laddism’ and a culture of harassment” is evident at their universities.

Oxford and Cambridge introducing sexual consent classes therefore is a step in the right direction of forming a response to the harrowing social ideals of sex, relationships and gender stereotypes that are ultimately being formed by students themselves through LAD culture.

These classes aren’t a patronising recap on sex education, they are about starting a positive and open discussion about sex, relationships and what constitutes sexual consent. As Charlotte Hempstead, women’s rep for St. Hugh’s University of Oxford has outlined ‘…we are discussing showing respect for your partner in all instances of intimacy. That was our key “takeaway” – respect your partner and their needs as well.’

It may be construed as patronising to many but given the harrowing 2010 NUS ‘Hidden Masks’ report that outlines how 68 per cent of respondents had been the victim of ‘one or more kinds of sexual harassment on campus during their time as a student’ it appears to be high time the topic is broached upon and dealt with a sense of maturity. It is the safety of ourselves and those around us that is at the heart of the issue and that is always something to strive for. Hopefully Oxford and Cambridge will inspire other universities to follow in suit.