Juliette Lewis and The New Romantiques: Live at Koko, Camden, May 15th

17 May

lewis

She’s been at this for 5 years, she happily tells the audience, thanking them for their support. Where other actors have dabbled, faded and fucked off when a big movie contract comes through, she’s never given up.

Even tonight, minus old band The Licks, she’s going full throttle as she arrives on stage just after midnight. “This is my new band, I needed to do something groovier” she announces months after using MySpace to inform fans that The Licks were “at the end of their run”. The new band is called The New Romantiques and their sound is heavier than anything from The Licks and, if we’re being honest, much more fun, original and adventurous. Writhing about, all big hair and determined hand gestures, she’s terrifying and every inch Iggy. The gurning, screaming and drums aren’t exactly a surprise and there’s nothing like ditching your old band and getting a new one in weeks to relight the fire. But when a full pint makes contact with her face, she’s off into the crowd to initiate the smackdown like a fully fledged WWE superstar, half panto, half crazed sinewy spider. Wherever you sit on the actress/artist side of the argument, the desire to make it to the rock A-List is clear and if you disagree, she’s simply going to stab you in the face. Less Karen O, more Courtney Love, she’s the hardest woman in American rock.

New songs from forthcoming album Terra Incognita are met with a good reception. The assorted mix of skinny jeaned scenesters and longtime fans dance to the basic, instantly accessible basslines despite the 2 hour indie disco just minutes before. Girls with studded headbands, cowboy boots and leather jackets rush to the front igniting the doubters. How do you convince someone that you’re a real rock star and not living out a rich kid fantasy? Get a major name producer on board (check) write your own album (check) and tour the shit out of it to silence the critics. Tonight, she manages it. Next stop is Brighton’s Great Escape festival. The Licks never got this kind of reception, not even in front of 85,000 drunk Foo Fighter fans at Hyde Park. Which is saying something.

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