Class Actress – the Lexington, Islington – 14th May

by MV

Since last year’s excellent Careful What You Say (MP3), I’d been looking forward to catching Brooklyn’s synthy popsters Class Actress live. Their first show over here as part of a brief tour (mainly of London, it must be said) was, a little disappointingly, more of a club showcase than a fully-fledged headline show.

With a cut-down set spanning less than half an hour, and playing to a warm but sparse crowd (conspicuously composed predominantly of Japanese kids, out to see cult star Natccu), there wasn’t a massive opportunity to shine. Elizabeth Harper (for Class Actress essentially is she) nonetheless demonstrated bags of star potential.

Kicking off the set with a bunch of as-yet unreleased tracks, it took a while for things to warm up. The main thing I have to report from this phase of the show was that there were some pretty spinny lights, of the kind where if you focus your eyes on a fixed point on the stage, you feel like you’ve had far too much to drink (actually, only 5 or 6 pints, guv) and are about to pass out. But without the nausea. Anyway, I digress…

The clunky, stuttering synths signalling the start of Careful What You Say wake things up a little. Harper, even in such an unpromising scenario, commands a particular stage presence, very much in the Karen O mould of frontladies (classy, stylish, confident) but perhaps a little more reserved (at this stage, possibly betraying her more conventional singer-songwriter roots). With only a single synth accompaniment, and little in the way of audience engagement, it’s to her credit that she does manage to win over a tough audience relatively quickly.

A couple of tracks from their excellent Journal of Ardency EP – the title track and the shimmery Let Me Take You Out – round things off nicely, but it’s hard not to feel a little short-changed. With a full album prepped and ready to go, and great tracks like EP standout ‘Adolescent Heart’ sadly missing, it all amounts to little more than a tease. But then, perhaps that’s the point. More of this we do definitely want.

For more info: Myspace. Catch them throughout the week at various London venues including the Social and Barden’s.