On first listen you would imagine Pip Brown to look just like she sounds – all gold earrings, pink stiletto’s, big shoulder-pads and even bigger hair. A long lost member of Bananarama perhaps. So there’s an almost overwhelming feeling of disappointment when Brown, better known as her alter ego Ladyhawke, takes to the stage, her face hiding under a shaggy mop of blond hair and her body swamped in a baggy t-shirt. She appears to be a somewhat reluctant popstar, lacking the swagger and smug confidence of other emerging talents, and at times seems slightly overwhelmed by the audience’s love for her music. But it’s this natural naivety and awkwardness that make the Kiwi songstress such an engaging performer. At times she makes no contact with the audience, instead choosing to look down at the microphone, her body hunched over and her hands hanging on as if her life depended on it.
It’s a rather understated performance that’s a far cry from the loud and quirky persona that made her debut album such an exhilarating ride – a mass onslaught of catchy electro-pop. Brilliantly bubbly songs drenched in synthesizers and topped off with Brown’s spunky, attitude-laden lyrics, delivered with an effortless charm, that instantly draw you in. It’s a heady blend of thumping beats, synth riffs and electric guitars that grab hold and drag you straight back to the 80s, your head nodding and feet tapping as you go. It takes you back to when Cyndi Lauper, Kim Wilde and Stevie Nicks all dominated the charts with their own infectious hits. It’s clear to see they’ve had some influence on Brown’s sound. If only she’d made notes on how to match their flashy onstage persona’s.
Despite that, Ladyhawke still manages to captivate the audience, largely thanks to the songs. Kicking off with ‘Professional Suicide’, Brown’s breathy vocals immediately get the crowd going. From then on the thrilling hooks and killer choruses never give up. ‘Magic’ and ‘Manipulating Woman’ are firm favourites. Both songs are delivered with a slightly rockier edge compared to the album; a sign that maybe there’s more to Ladyhawke than what we’ve heard so far. The effortless groove of ‘Love Don’t Live Here’ and ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ are classic anthems in the making, again delivered with Brown’s unique style. At times you can just about see the diva inside wanting to break out, as Brown raises her arms in the air like a bona-fide rockstar and gets the crowd clapping to the beat. ‘Paris is Burning’ is another irresistible thrill-ride and it’s clearly Ladyhawke’s most recognisable song, evident by everyone jumping and cheering along. ‘My Delirium’ ends the night on a sugar-coated high – a fitting end from a show that proves Brown is one talented lady who knows how to create the perfect pop song. Although she still appears to be settling in to her newfound success, Brown will no doubt evolve into a lead singer with the onstage attitude and persona she presents so effortlessly in her songs. When that happens, Ladyhawke will be playing truly amazing shows to match these mighty tunes. As they say – it’s always the quiet ones you should keep an eye on.