Sometime earlier this year, when watching a YouTube video of sunny California, the accompanying song caught my ears, with striking lyrics like, ‘You were, you were, the drug of my choice, my great escape now… You are, you are, the drug of the town, who hasn’t had a taste? Come on, come on, everything’s fine, fine in LA. New York, New York, no more, no more.’
Googling the lyrics, I found out it was a song called BRB by a band called Lany (LA-NY), who, it turned out, had already released about 20 emotive electro powerpop songs about breakups and longing and melancholy. I didn’t realise but soon found out that a Lany gig is a proper fangirl experience, complete with screaming girls and throwing roses on the stage.
The band consists of principal songwriter and frontman Paul Jason Klein, who holds court alone on the main stage. His three fellow band members, Jake Goss (drums), Les Priest (keyboards, guitars) and Giuliano Pizzulo (guitars, keyboards), stand on a raised platform above the stage. Klein has a piano/keyboard set up in the middle of the stage, which he plays from time to time. For some songs, he straps on a guitar. But it seems almost more like a fashion statement; a guitar to wear rather than an instrument to play.
Whether it’s because the other musicians play the same chords as Klein, whether the songs are arranged in a way it doesn’t matter whether he plays or not, or whether he’s not plugged in, is hard to say, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference to the songs whether he plays or not. Either way, he’s not here to play his songs; he’s here to sing and perform them.
With his bleach-blond hair and bright yellow football shirt, Klein sticks out on stage even among all those bright colours on the screens behind him. It’s a visually pleasing show, with each song having its own video theme taking up the whole backdrop and impossible to ignore. The visuals suit the songs well, as if each song is showcased like a live music video.
Lany’s latest album, Malibu Nights, has just been released three days earlier. Still, all the new songs are treated like long lost friends by the audience, who embrace each word and sing the songs back at Klein, who happily stops singing to surrender himself to the sonic hugs of the crowd. Not least of all, the album’s title track gets a warm reception. Klein sits down at the piano, playing a quiet lullaby, bathed in stars projected on the starry night screen behind him as if he’s playing piano up in the sky among the stars. ‘Way too much whiskey in my blood, I feel my body giving up, Can I hold on for another night, What do I do with all this time’?
Klein may not be the best singer around. Still, his voice lends just the right amount of emotion and conviction to his catchy songs, where the forte is fetching melodies layered with lyrics full of twists and turns and a considerably more adult delivery than the average pop- or R&B song.
Though screams and cheers greet all songs this evening, particular favourites like Hericane are complemented by dramatic red lighting, highlighting the song’s drama (‘Cause our home is a wreck, look at this mess’). Pink Skies is accompanied by a video backdrop of cars driving on the Pacific Coast Highway parallel with luscious waves licking the sandy beach). For 13, the stage is bathed in dark blue shades, turning Klein and his bandmates into dark silhouettes.
And when Klein sings the first lines of the last song, ILYSB, the audience could be forgiven for thinking they were not in London on a chilly Autumn night, but in Malibu, California, being young and in love, without a care in the world, not having to worry about having to get up for work tomorrow: ‘Ain’t never felt this way, Can’t get enough so stay with me, It’s not like we got big plans, Let’s drive around town holding hands’.
The casual romanticism of the songs is the real triumph of the evening. Songs in which summer never ends, and you’re forever in a car cruising down the highway with the wind in your hair and the car radio on, with the waves crashing in and your’ heart hurts so good because you’re in love so bad, so bad.’
1. Thick and Thin
2. Good Girls
3. Bad, Bad, Bad
4. Taking Me Back
5. Valentine’s Day
6. Made in Hollywood
10. If You See Her
11. The Breakup
12. Let Me Know
14. I Don’t Wanna Love
16. Super Far
17. Pink Skies
18. Malibu Nights
19. Thru These Tears