Le Tigre – London Astoria, May 2002

Despite the lack of guitars, Helen Watling is blown away by Le Tigre.

, 16 July 2002

I have to admit to being a little apprehensive about this one. I know, I

know. . . Don’t get me wrong, I love Le Tigre – there’s no better band to

groove to in your kitchen. I love that Kathleen Hanna was the inspirational

leader of Bikini Kill and thus, of riot grrl. I love the still passionately

and avowedly feminist message. I love that she inspired Kurt Cobain to write

the seminal (Smells Like) Teen Spirit. But . . . I’m used to seeing guitar

bands. I know how to watch guitar bands. I don’t know how to cope with

electro-disco pop-punk where loads of the stuff is pre-programmed, where

samplers are used, where there are NO GUITARS. . .

How wrong I was. From the moment the band bounced onto the stage wearing

matching Thunderbirds-style outfits, to the frankly grin-inspiring finale, with

the crowd chanting, singing and dancing up on stage, I LOVED THIS GIG.

There’s humour and beauty in these songs. There’s also a strong political message.

The atmosphere was electric due both to the crowd and the enthusiasm of the

band. Kathleen Hanna, J D Samson, Johanna Fateman are charismatic, talented

women, who have so much more to say than the heavily-feted white boys with

guitars our music press is currently so enamoured with. The music veers from

the call-to-arms of LT Tour Theme; the danceable, shoutey choruses of On Guard,

Tres Bien and the frankly, brilliant Deceptacon; to the quiet paean to dancing

alone in your room that is Eau D’Bedroom Dancing and the lovely dedication to

the obviously inspirational Les and Ray. There’s humour and beauty in these

songs. There’s also the strong political message – to keep kicking against the

pricks in F.Y.R. (‘fifty fucking years of calling us names’) which the audience

was invited to karaoke along to. The songs were catchy, danceable surges of

energy. Dance? Oh yes, every last one of us. Sing along? Oh hell yes.

Throughout the show the screen rolled photographs, pseudo-pop videos, and

short films. During Hot Topic (surely the grooviest ‘list song’ ever as the

band chant the names of influential female artists, film makers, musicians etc)

cover shots of every cool female artist’s album you could ever wish to own

flash up on screen. There were dance routines (marching band-style during Dyke

March 2001) and a spot of synchronised Hawaii 5-0 surfing to a backdrop of

tanned hunks on surf-boards. I left this show with the largest grin on my face

and inspired enough to want to go out and change the world. When Le Tigre next

come to town “ladies and fags, yeah” be ready for it.

Review by Helen Watling.

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