Concert Reviews

La Roux set the wayback machine to 1986 at the Ogden

La Roux • boyhollow
06.05.10 | Ogden Theater

Boyhollow opened this show, and his DJ set was a nice weaving together of modern, house music and tastefully chosen pop and rock songs to match the pace being set at that given moment. Kind of a more original take on Big Beat, the set got some people dancing throughout the Ogden, and at the end, boyhollow did what sounded like a live remix of "Where is My Mind?" by Pixies, altering the speed of the background beat while maintaining the pace of the original song.

Aside from the crowd chanting the name of the band as the lights went down, there wasn't a lot of pomp and circumstance for the appearance of La Roux. With a quick hello, the group went into "Tigerlily," and Eleanor Jackson's voice sounded immediately recognizable, recalling a sultry, Allison Moyet-esque croon.

Musically, La Roux's set felt like warping back to the mid-'80s, when synth-pop ruled a sizeable section of the airwaves led by androgynous singers like Pete Burns and Annie Lennox. With "Quicksand," Jackson affected a beautiful falsetto that was reminiscent of Jimmy Sommerville -- part pop and part soul.

When Jackson and company launched into "I'm Not Your Toy," the lively, R&B-inflected song was so much like one of those great old Heaven 17 songs, it would have been easy to mistake for a cover. For her part, Jackson danced around the stage, gesturing with grace and poise, showing her ability to command an audience. It was easy to imagine this is what it might've been like to see Madonna before she broke big, except that Jackson isn't cultivating a tough girl image.

For "Saviour," a song Jackson wrote when she was seventeen, she brought out an acoustic guitar and performed the song by herself, providing a brief break in all the buoyant synth-pop confection. The winsome song energized an already wildly enthusiastic crowd, as did a cover of the Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb," done in a style of dance music made popular in the Hacienda club in the late '80s, with R&B vocals and an actual bass guitar holding down the low end instead of a synth.

La Roux closed its set with "Fascination," another song that sounded a bit like Bronski Beat but without the lonely severity of some of that outfits best material. That would have been the end but Jackson and the crew were encouraged to come back by the cheering crowd and perform its hit, "Bulletproof." Toward the end, Jackson did half the chorus and then held the mike to the audience to handle the rest of the verse and the entire chorus -- and the crowd sang along gleefully with surprising skill and verve.

La Roux Ogden Theatre • Denver, CO • 06.05.10 Set List

1.Tigerlily 2. Quicksand 3. I'm Not Your Toy 4. Armour Love (?) 5. Saviour 6. Under My Thumb 7. Growing Pains 8. Cover My Eyes 9. Colourless Colour 10. In For the Kill 11. Fascination 12. Bulletproof

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I'm a fan of a lot of 80s synth pop. Random Detail: Ran into comic artist Lonnie Allen outside. By the Way: The entire concert, including the opening "act" and the encore, was one hour thirty eight minutes long.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.