La Roux

Webster Hall; Thu 11

As with so many of today’s gifted pop starlets (we’re looking at you, Gaga), La Roux frontwoman Elly Jackson has cultivated an image that seems carefully designed to overshadow her catchy if rather conventional music—in this case, chilly, retro synth-pop. With her gravity-defying red tresses, sparkly androgynous getups and tendency to wear garish makeup as she stomps through music videos, how could the look not be more important than the songs?

But when La Roux took the stage at the Highline Ballroom last October, Jackson came across as anything but an English Katy Perry. Nervous and awkward, she repeatedly and profusely apologized for a set abbreviated due to illness, and wandered among band members who seemed too preoccupied with twiddling knobs and pushing buttons to notice her. (Jackson’s collaborator and La Roux’s other member, Ben Langmaid, isn’t part of the live act.) It was all very sweet, endearing and surprisingly human, if perplexing when contrasted with Jackson’s defiant rock-star poses in photos and videos.

Presumably Jackson will be in better health when La Roux comes to Webster Hall this week, and while that may or may not affect her demeanor, it should make her powerhouse vocals all the better. Often overshadowed on record by layers of backing vocals and pumping synths, Jackson is a real belter live. When she hits the high notes on fist-pumpers like “Tigerlily” and the hit “Bulletproof,” it’s clear she has superstar potential—if only she were comfortable making eye contact with her audience.—Ethan LaCroix

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