Ladyhawke - Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Sandwiched in between sets from future pop star VV Brown and headliners the Ting Tings, Ladyhawke's short but sweet set makes two things apparent: the first is that modern, femme-fronted pop in '09 looks to be in good hands, and the second - more important - is that Ladyhawke as a filling is like biting into a nice, juicy portion of the '80s. Seriously, by the time Katie and Jules hit the stage, I'm spitting out Michael J. Fox, digesting Dallas and poodle perm rock, and trying to get leftover Rubicks cube outta my teeth. And, as someone who was born in 1986, the level of nostalgia is quite astonishing!
This is what our Lady, Pip Brown, causes. Whether a genuine '80s kid or a Ting Ting fan too short to ride on Nemesis, I'll bet every boy and gal at the Civic on Monday was won over by her guiltless journey and careless reshuffling through that decade's musical vault. Her entrance onstage suggests a shyness referred to in past interviews and reviews, and yet her look - a lion's mane of tussled blonde ringlets descending upon a sleeveless Nirvana vest top - is so casual/cool it practically begs the tag 'iconic'. Sure enough, Dusk Till Dawn opens the time/space vortex with its call to 'bang bang bang, on the wall' certifying its standing as one of the greatest overlooked pop songs of last year. Time to call Molly Ringwald, and see if she's up for a party!
The darker allure of Magic and a shamelessly cute update of the Buggles' most famous track in Another Runaway continue to win over new converts to the Ladyhawke cause, but it's the brooding Love Don't Live Here that proves a nice contrast to the twinkly lights adorning her mic stand. It's as gloomy and personal as something by, say, White Lies, another fresh talent to proudly wear the era's distinctive mark like a fashionable tattoo, and yet its underlying groove makes way for a coda that still glitters; the Civic have tonight basically stumbled upon Kylie's long-lost Stevie Nicks phase, and it's fucking glorious.
Alas, this is merely a support set before Pip returns to the UK for her headline tour in May, bound to be a killer and one more step to that aforementioned 'iconic' stage. Before the hype machine explodes (I've seen a telly advert and everythin'), it's another early highlight of 2009's gig landscape for me to witness a set closing with Back of the Van, Paris is Burning and My Delirium. Drugs? Who needs 'em? Sex? Pah. Dancing like a twat is all that matters when such a dizzying treat is thrown your way, and it's only fair to oblige when Pip's up there trading keys for guitar and singing her little heart out. She's backed by a band of blokes who help her wring out every drop of retro-rad from an extended disco jam of the evocative Paris is Burning, but it's clear it is she alone steering this trip Back to the Future and through the jeffin' clock tower. Sure, the French might be a little steamy but one Wulfrunian lad is a sweaty mess after these 30 minutes, and he wants to tell Ms Hawke that whatever magic she's conjuring is acceptable in the '80s and whenever she bloody well chooses.