Saturday 24 February 2024

You Came To My Show And I Saw You In The Crowd

Last Sunday (19th), I went to my second gig of 2024, Ladyhawke at Komedia in Bath. 
Originally planned for last summer, the tour was postponed and rescheduled and therefore anticipation was high. I am a huge fan of Ladyhawke's self-titled debut but of the further three that have followed, I'm only familiar with her third album, Wild Things. So, much to look forward to.

Komedia's a nice venue, a former cinema where, circa 1988, my friend and I experienced an all-night fright fest marathon comprising Evil Dead I & II and A Nightmare On Elm Street 1-3. These days, the theatre is subject to less horror as a prime location for comedy and music events in the city centre. Look up and you can still see the ornate ceiling that hints at its history; otherwise, it's a sleek, modern venue. 
I got there a little ahead of the support act showtime and it was looking a little sparse to begin with, though a few had already secured their position at the front of the stage. At 7.30pm promptly, Flavia took to the stage. 

To be honest, I'd never heard of Flavia before this night and, in the interest of keeping an open mind to all of my gig-going experiences, I didn't look her up on t'internet and listen to any of her music before the gig. 
The thing that immediately struck me as she set up her laptop and positioned herself at the mike is that Flavia had undergone quite a radical style makeover, as visually the person on stage bore little resemblance to the Flavia adorning the cover of the CD on the merch stand that I passed on my way in. What I'd loosely describe as retro punk chic, with chains, leather, a feathery mullet and the words 'Suck My Fem' (a nod to Flavia's debut album) painted on the back of her jacket.
It was slick, precision-tooled pop with song titles like Damn Life Is Good, Call Your Friends, Wide Awake, Ripe and BDE (BIg Dyke Energy) and performed with consummate professionalism. I enjoyed the half-hour set, though not as much as small clusters of the audience, admittedly much younger than me, who whooped at the between song messages of love and empowerment and leapt like bridesmaids to grab the roses that Flavia flung into the air at a couple of points. 
I particularly enjoyed the bit when Flavia stepped down from the stage, headed to an empty pocket in the crowd and performed 'in the round' for the rest of the song. Standing about three feet away from her, you could really see that this is no affected show piece, she means every word she sings. I won't be rushing out to buy her album, but Flavia did a great job with the time she had on (and off) stage.

In typical fashion, the crowds really started pouring in aferwards. From the start of going to gigs, I could never understand why people wouldn't turn up to see the support act(s) as well as the headliner. The logistics of getting to a venue I understand: the number of times I've missed part or all of an opening act thanks to public transport or parking woes. But I could never understand my mates who would rather spend another hour in the pub up the road than experience more music. The band made the effort to turn up, why can't you?

Anyway, rant aside, the excitement was palpable when the lights dimmed, leaving only the neon-lit rig and spotlights to focus on. A deep synth bassline came in and three shadowy figures took to the stage. Ladyhawke had arrived. 

As Pip Brown bashed away at a trio of drum pads, guitar to her right, keyboard to her left, it soon became apparent that this wasn't an extended intro to the first song but a sneaky run through to check sound levels. Still sounded great, though.

The set properly opened with the double whammy of Magic and Manipulating Woman, Pip moving to guitar and delivering a rousing start to proceedings. We loved it.

Pip introduced the next song, My Delirium. "By now, you've probably guessed," she said with a smile, "that we're playing the debut album in full." 

In my efforts to have a spoiler-free experience, I didn't have a look at Setlist beforehand, otherwise I would have known this. I know it's a thing these days but this is the first gig I've been to where an artist plays an album in its entirety, in sequential order. I can understand the appeal, particularly if you really love the album and also get to hear songs that had rarely or never been performed live previously. I've mixed feelings about it, to be honest.
I loved Ladyhawke's first album, I've played it loads and loads of times and I'm very familiar with the order of songs. And therein lay the slight challenge - I won't say disappointment - for me. Given my previous comments, what I love about gigs is not knowing what's coming next, fascinated by what the artist has decided to sequence together, how songs that on a playlist may sound diametrically opposed complement one another in a live setting. 

So, knowing from the third song what the next nine would be was, well, a different experience. Not that it detracted in any way from the performance of each song, the trio were on fire, Pip in great form vocally and the audience clearly thrilled. Hard to pick a favourite, but the 'side 2' quartet of Back Of The Van, Paris Is Burning, Professional Suicide and Dusk Till Dawn was as unbeatable on stage as it is on record.

Things inevitably came to an end with the album's 12th and final song, Morning Dreams, which Pip shared was being performed live for the first time on this tour. It was a euphoric, uplifting end to a set that seemed over all too soon.

Ladyhawke returned to the stage for three more encores, although I begrudgingly note that a couple of other gigs on the UK tour managed to squeeze in a fourth.

Skipping the second and third album altogether, the band performed My Love and Guilty Love from 2021's Time Flies album and then closed with a contemporary of her debut. Embrace was a 2008 single by PNAU aka Nick Littlemore (perhaps better known for his later work with Empire Of The Sun) and featuring a then-lesser known Ladyhawke. "It's a real banger," Pip smiled during the introduction and she wasn't wrong. 

As the trio left the stage for the final time, the lights came up and I wandered out into the street and the realisation that it was 10pm on Sunday night, with another working week beckoning, I held onto the blazing memory of a fantastic gig that was worth waiting an extra six months for. I experienced a little bit of magic, that cold February evening in Bath.

In keeping with my usual gig reviews, I like to recreate the setlist as a Dubhed selection for your listening pleasure. Given that this concert was essentially a straight run through of the debut album, this presented something of a challenge, especially with the DMCA takedown bots poised over every key stroke.
So, today's 15-track, 62-minute selection features just four original album versions. The rest are made of live sessions and remixes. In the absence of alternative versions in many cases, I also took the liberty of doing minor edits to Manipulating Woman, Better Than Sunday and Professional Suicide. The first two are little more that extending the intro slightly; I took the outro of Professional Suicide and tacked it onto the beginning in lazy 12"/80s style. I did all of these on the fly this morning whilst creating the selection so I make no apologies for the slipshod editing if the 'joins' are more noticeable than they should be!
1) Magic (Live @ JBTV, Chicago) (2016) 
2) Manipulating Woman (Lil' Intro Edit By Khayem) (2024)
3) My Delirium (RNZ Music Live Session, Wellington, New Zealand) (2021)
4) Better Than Sunday (Lil' Intro Edit By Khayem) (2024)
5) Another Runaway (Album Version) (2008)
6) Love Don’t Live Here (Album Version) (2008)
7) Back Of The Van (Fred Falke Ultimate Beverly Mix) (2009)
8) Paris Is Burning (Dimitri From Paris Back To 84 Remix) (2009)
9) Professional Suicide (Extended Edit By Khayem) (2024)
10) Dusk Till Dawn (Canyons Remix By Leo Thomson & Ryan Grieve) (2008)
11) Crazy World (Album Version) (2008)
12) Morning Dreams (Album Version) (2008)
13) My Love (Slow Fade Intro Version) (2021) 
14) Guilty Love (RNZ Music Live Session, Wellington, New Zealand) (2021)
15) Embrace (Fredrick Carlsson Epic Remix): PNAU ft. Ladyhawke (2009)
In The Crowd (1:02:00) (KF) (Mega

My mission in 2024 was to experience considerably more live music than I've managed in the past few years. Stick around then for tomorrow's second gig review in a row, another artist that I finally got to see last night after missing them in 2023.
In the meantime, here are some more pics from Sunday night. The above photo of Ladyhawke is courtesy of Howard Trigg via a YouTube upload (thank you!), the rest of the grainy, non-flash shots are courtesy of my bashed and battered phone.


  1. I know what you mean about the bands playing full albums thing. I have seen Sarabeth Tucek twice in the last six months or so and both times she played her new new album 'Joan Of All' track by track and nothing else. The first time it was excellent as the album was only just out and I had not had time to get that familiar with it, but the second time was more "Can't you just mix it up a bit?"

    1. Thanks, Ernie. The tour was postponed in 2023, which was the 15th anniversary of Ladyhawke's debut album, so I'm guessing that might have been to do with the choice of setlist.

      Jah Wobble did something similar with the Metal Box In Dub gig at the end of last year, though he mixed up the sequence a bit and peppered the setlist with some spicy additions from the archive.

  2. Saw Ladyhawke at The Cockpit in Leeds just after the first album came out - tremendous gig. Good to know Pip's still going strong

    1. Thanks, Ricky. It appears Pip's been through some tough times in the last few years but she was on top form last week.

  3. "But I could never understand my mates who would rather spend another hour in the pub up the road than experience more music. The band made the effort to turn up, why can't you?"

    Indeed. And who knows, you might just find yourself experiencing something that you can boast about for years to come (see Radiohead supporting The Frank & Walters or Cocteau Twins supporting The Fall).

    Great write-up. Not sure if you're with this acoustic take on My Delirium by Malcolm Middleton - not to everyone's taste, but I love it.

    1. Thanks, JC. And yes, I love the Ladyhawke cover, although Malcolm Middleton could cover anyone from Extreme Noise Terror to Daniel O'Donnell and I'd probably be onboard.