Little Boots - Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
God bless the UK music press. You wait a good long while for a synth-happy, electro-pop poppet with outlandish style to turn up on the scene, and then two come along at once; what then happens? It turns into a bloody warzone. Back in January, Little Boots - the guise of button-cute Blackpool lass Victoria Hesketh - was pipped to win the race after winning some hyped-up BBC poll or something or other. Then In for the Kill happened, and it was all about Elly Jackson's copper mommy and mega-quiff. If the 'do has frankly been upstaged by those bleedin' X Factor twins, then Friday night's Little Boots show in Wolves was locked and loaded to fully take out the competition - that is, the UK competition at least, seeing as Annie does have a new album out after all...
Still, the Boots is surely the most promising successor to Kylie's showgirl throne ever to originate from a British seaside town. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on your view of Kylie, but surely everyone got a kick out of the Fever era? With her own keen ear for a tune, plus guidance from Hot Chip's Joe Goddard and Lily producer Greg Kurstin, this is the sound - with added nostalgic trappings, of course - that Little Boots' most resembles. Considering the choice of opening track Ghost (a Halloween treat perhaps?), you wouldn't think this; Music Fix scribe Gary K summed it up best by likening it to Kate Bush's Army Dreamers, and its offbeat nature is only furthered when Vicky performs the whole thing covered by a glittery sheet. Once the gloves - or, in this case, ghost - comes off, it's shape-pulling time as Earthquakes bops all over the Richter scale, signalling a setlist comprised of perfect pop tunes.
As the sensual Hearts Collide bumps hips with New In Town's catchy chorus chant (perfect singalong fodder for a Friday night gig), the vibe is similar to that pre-taxi wine session at someone's flat where the hairbrushes come out and you dance on the bed - or, at least, what I imagine that to be like. Cough. Anyway, it's exactly like that but there are plastic pint cups instead of hairbrushes and people are seemingly not aware that complete strangers can see their bedroom dancing. This is what makes it great. Granted, the crowd are the campest lot I've encountered since the Scissor Sisters days, but everyone - from middle-aged couples who caught her on Jools Holland to little eight year-old gals who want to walk in those Boots - is getting on down. Except during Tune Into My Heart. Y'know, the crap one.
Joined solely by a male cohort, who aids her in programming and backing, Victoria alternates between keys, theremin, that weird 'Battleships' computer screen thing that makes Meddle so so SICK and, well, just travelling the stage and singing with a mic. She's always come across as very pleasant in interviews but, before catching her at Reading this year, I was never sure she had the charisma to fully engage. Between that festival slot and tonight, it's safe to say that she is on her way to becoming a star (pint-sized, of course), a point proven by the fact that Symmetry works its Human League-esque magic even without Phil Oakey on vocal duties. A quick costume swap into a poofy thing with protruding triangles - think a sexy, spiky Sonic - signals a close, brought about by the coolly calculated Mathematics and the sleeper chart hit Remedy, which brings the gays and the fair amount of attending chavs (who surely only heard this one tune in Oceana at some point?) together in a mass word-for-word singalong. This is what gigs should do.
Oh, but that's not all. Encores are expected of course, but the Civic has a curfew on weekend nights and it's gone half nine already. Resigned to being flooded by the houselights and not hearing Stuck on Repeat, I'm a happy man when Victoria re-emerges in a fluffy white dressing gown and sits behind her electric piano for a rendition of hidden album track Hands. It's here where the Kate Bush comparisons come out to play again, as her playing and songwriting craft prove exquisite here and, without the electronics to hide behind, her voice rings clear as a bell. New song Echoes follows in the same vein, giving us a taster of what we can look forward to when those Boots get a little bigger, but the finale is introduced as 'the song that started it all'. At first, I'm a little deflated when she begins playing Stuck On Repeat while sat at the stool - one verse/chorus in though, and the beat kicks in and the dressing gown comes off. The reaction is hysterical and even those folk who work on Saturdays are getting their weekend rave on to one of this year's best tracks. It's the perfect nightcap and, with the song stuck on repeat in my brainbox even as I'm dancing to middling indie an hour later in a club, I reckon that even Alison Goldfrapp should be a lil' worried.