Review / photos: La Roux at the Ritz Ybor in Tampa
Some might do a double take at the snazzy hairstyle of Elly Jackson of La Roux, but on Thursday, she performed in Ybor City ... and we’re used to unique, fancy and absurd dress codes. When it comes to music in Ybor City and the Ritz, Tampa always welcomes artist that put on a good show.
The walls had little wiggle room in the packed Ritz, and the general feel of the crowd was that of excitement. But first, let’s digress for the opening acts.
First, Panic Bomber took the crowd in a off-kilter direction. This Miami synth- and horn-based crew, headed by frontman Richard Haig, put on a show — but was it a good show, or a just plain obnoxious show? That was the question around the room. Close your eyes and picture Will Ferrell on crack, with Jesus hair and Marilyn Manson eye shadow, with an itchy “ants in your pants” dance style, and you have Richard Haig of Panic Bomber. Oh, but I forgot to mention the F-bombs that Haig repeatedly used on the crowd during his intermissions. I’m sure the guy that brought his 6-year-old daughter to see La Roux appreciated that.
Then we get to Francis and the Lights, the second opener of the evening. Where was the rest of their band? I think I heard that about a dozen times, and no one seemed to have the answer. So, what we originally expected to be a seven-member band was reduced down to two, but they did their best to keep the crowd enthusiastic for the main act to come. Fans of the band seemed to enjoy the duo squeezing out every last drop of spastic energy to keep everyone focused on the music. If not for singer and frontman Francis Farewell Starlite’s unique and jagged dancing, the swells of enthusiasm may have been lost in the quiet and drawn-out riffs of the small stage show.
Then came The Red One.
After what seemed like the longest wait in musical prep-work history, it was on. La Roux walked on stage, and there wasn’t a voice within the Ritz that wasn’t vocalizing their appreciation of the young female artist. Elly Jackson naturally took the crowd in her hands and never let go.
It seemed almost everyone knew the lyrics and had a sing-along with almost every song. From the opening song Tigerlily to the closing encore Bulletproof, the energy never quelled. The visual stage show was modest, but combined with Jackson’s finesse and personal feel with her audience, this show left everyone complete.
The only complaint I heard was the show was not long enough. It was a very in-and-out performance, with little time for crowd involvement. A few personal effects were tossed on stage, and some handshakes with the front row seemed to cure any major ills.
La Roux is actually a combination of Elly Jackson and Ben Langmaid. Langmaid never takes the stage, and instead keeps behind the scenes and lets Jackson take the glory. How’s that for modesty? Bringing up the side stage were assisting musicians is Michael Norris (keyboards), Mickey O’Brien (keyboards/vocals), and William Bowerman (electronic drums).
Overall this was a musical performance with influences of The Eurythmics, David Bowie, and The Human League. The band’s latest CD, Lazerproof, includes a remix of Bulletproof and seems to be going well with their loyal fans. The verdict is still out if La Roux is a one-hit wonder with Bulletproof or if they are here to stay. If the crowd that piled into The Ritz has a vote, I believe they will be around for quite some time.
— Review / photos by Andrew Carlton, tbt*