I've got some kind of Lady-Sovereign-live-in-NYC jinx: the first time I wrote it down in my book as a Thursday gig when it was actually Wednesday; the second, it was part of CMJ and Webster Hall (horrible venue, I was amazed to learn Animal Collective were playing there) did their usual "we've reached our badge-holders quota already, you can wait outside until someone leaves or you can buy a ticket" scam. And then last night at Knitfac: almost third time unlucky. I'd been told she'd be on at 11-30; arrived at 10-45 to discover I'd missed the first third of the show. Venue unbearably crammed, impossible to get near the music's physical force-field or get much more than a glimpse of Sov's form, but eventually found a place on the balcony where the music was almost loud enough AND you could, if standing on your toes and craning your neck at an agle, glimpse most of Sov and absorb some of that radioactive charisma. By this point, though, it was well into the home stretch of the set. Playing with a "real band" seemed like a bad move at first, especially as the result sounded like a uneasy meld of pick-up band unwieldiness/self-effacement and stuff on tape (Sov's own backing vocals and various wacky production bits). Seems like maybe a decision has been made to break her in America as some sort of Sporty Stefani/Avril Skinner type hybrid, hi-nrg rock entertainment with English quirk'n'charm. But the new track called something like "This Is My England"--hilariously skewering American Anglophile illusions about Britain as home of refinement and olde worlde quaintness, "we ain't all posh like the Queen" etc etc-- was fantastic, sonically mining that Madness/HyperOnExperience/The Streets vein of zany-jaunty arrangement. And then on "Public Warning" everything seemed to gel finally, the band went full-throttle, the
track went through a whole bunch of exciting changes, sections where it was kinda speed-ska meets happy-gabba meets polka-Oi!. Too bad it was the last number.