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Review: La Roux, Far East Movement at Rams Head Live, November 7

Contributor Christeen Roden reviews the La Roux and Far East Movement shows at Rams Head Live Sunday night. 

La Roux's songs have been so effectively plastered all over the Internet and TV, that Elly Jackson is her own worst enemy when performing live.

We're all so familiar with the tunes -- which have been excellently remixed by Major Lazer, among others -- that we expect her to deliver something new in person.

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Unfortunately for the duo, and the duo's fans at Rams Head Live Sunday night, theirs was a short, uninspired and bland performance. Fortunately, Far East Movement was there for some levity.

La Roux's set was perfectly competent and in keeping with the album's sound, but that was precisely the problem. There was no spontaneity or newness to the performance, which is sort of the whole point of paying money to go hear someone play the same songs you can hear for free on your iPod.

This was a missed opportunity for Jackson and Ben Langmaid.  Perhaps it would have been too much to expect totally new renditions, but it would have been more interesting for all parties involved if the songs had been reinvented even half as well as a second-tier Major Lazer remix.

Especially disappointing, given Jackson's impressive voice and range, was how diluted she sounded on stage. She was so generally quiet as to sound like she was singing underwater.

I wasn't the only person underwhelmed with the performance. After Far East Movement finished their set, the shift in audience energy was palpable.

Maybe Jackson was having an off night, or maybe last night's show was simply the result of a young, inexperienced performer who hasn't really gotten comfortable with her stage skin yet. But maybe this is the inevitable fate of the endlessly remixed musician. After a while, there's nothing new to see.

Having only recently been exposed to the auto-tuned club anthem "Like a G6," I had vague expectations for Far East Movement. Maybe they would be Black-Eyed-Peas-ish.

But their energy and showmanship did not disappoint. At least, they jumped around (in button down shirts and ties, mind you) for far longer than La Roux. While their songs were indistinguishable from one another, they were at least amusing: all three members came on stage in glowing space invader-type helmets and were later joined by a large costumed, Pokemon-esque character.

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Maybe if I had been more familiar with, or at least able to understand the lyrics, their set might have felt like more than an intermittent drone of indecipherable yelling. As it was, the only song that I was able to separate from the rest was the previously mentioned hit. (This was also the only song on which Dev, the Ke$ha clone supporting female vocalist, made an appearance.)

Still, I wished Far East Movement had been able to bang out a few more mindless romps, if only because they had a heartbeat, where La Roux had none.

La Roux Set List:

Tigerlily
New song (perhaps It's Easy Now?)
As if by Magic
I'm Not Your Toy
Quicksand
Growing Pains
Under My Thumb (R Stone's Cover)
Colourless Colour
In For the Kill
Bulletproof

Christeen Roden maintains her own blog about Baltimore and has written for blackbookmag.com. Erik Maza edited this post.

Photo: Elly Jackson of La Roux performs at the Glastonbury Festival 2010 (Reuters)

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