May 8, 2013
XOYO, 32-37 Cowper Street, London, EC2A 4AP
The first time I saw Miss Kittin live was in a car park in East London. She was promoting her second solo album BatBox, in a very large marquee turned into a warehouse-style rave by promotors Bugged Out, and her headlining set blew me away. Walking the tightrope between DJ and performer, Kittin’s skilful mixing of her own music whilst performing it was spellbinding transforming her from the First Lady of electroclash into a bonafide techno goodness. I was therefore eager to see how she would perform new studio album Calling From The Stars.
The dark, smoke filled XOYO was buzzing with people and minimal techno from the word go, with a DJ set from Hannah Holland preparing us for the party that awaited us. Then, as Caroline Herve, aka Miss Kittin, was due to hit the stage there was the intro to ‘Sortie des Artistes’, then ‘Cosmic Love Radiation’ … and then she took to the stage in a white mask and veil, her amazing tattoo work showing through her half and half black and white spiked shouldered dress,
There is a lightning in the sky…
and in her fantastic, sexy monotone voice, began ‘Flash Forward’, the opening track from the current album. The fact I was on my own, surrounded by groups of people all having fun, didn’t matter, and I began to sing along,
God is taking a picture of you,
Take a picture of him too –
easily being my favourite lyric on the album. The first thing that struck me about this performance from Kittin, was its theatrical nature. We get lightning flashes, and the gradual removal of the veil and mask, revealing a beautiful, beaming smile … something I had never associated with the deadpan delivery of this electro maverick. From there we flawlessly move into brilliant single ‘Bassline’, and then the philosophical electro of ‘Life Is My Teacher’, all from the new album, before Kittin picks up a bass … and I lose my mind.
Last album Batbox came around at the perfect time, when electroclash was on its last legs and minimal techno had become the underground, its perfect blend of minimal beats and commercial hooks with Kittin’s uncommercial delivery made it one of the most exciting electronic albums I’d ever heard, and the song that exemplified that for me was ‘Grace’. With its picky bass line, guitars and minimal, almost photographic beat, it still remains one of the best electronica songs I have ever heard. And here, in front of me, stands Miss Kittin … playing the bass line to ‘Grace’ … and I can no longer control myself. I scream, I dance, I sing along, and as ‘Grace’ draws to a close I am taken through a sonic whistle-stop tour of the greatest hits of Miss Kittin – starting with the brilliantly titled ‘Happy Violentine’, from debut album I Com. As the song builds, and then drops down to a heartbeat, the crowd is in the palm of Kittin’s hands, silently begging her to bring us the rave again, and as the song draws to a close and I hear
I beat that bitch with a hit –
again, my pulse starts to race, as we are treated to the stunning ‘Requiem For A Hit’, also from her debut. And then as the brilliant downtempo game console electronica of ‘Wash’N’Dry’ follows, Kittin gets more intimate with her audience, and crouches down, singing directly to the crowd.
As I think, “I can’t love this woman any more”, she launches into one of the songs that shaped the electroclash movement from 1982 when punk band the Misfits released the brilliant ‘Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight’, and in 2002 the title was used as the opening line for the dance song ‘Rippin Kittin’, a co-release with Goldenboy, a song that became a massive underground hit after being endorsed by the likes of Neil Tennent, and as the crowd screams along to the chorus of,
I feel like taking a life –
it’s obvious the song is still as relevant now as it ever was. The clunky electro of ‘What To Wear’, with its bilingual French and English vocals, and refrain of,
Who are you? Show me your face,
show me the truth –
leads perfectly into ‘Madame Hollywood’, a collaboration with the amazing Felix Da Housecat, released just before ‘Rippin Kittin’, which still sounds as fresh now as it did ten years ago. Then the music drops, and I hear,
Before we start anything, I have to say…
I start to hyperventilate,
…I am undercover, and my name won’t appear anywhere, ok?
And that’s it… my head has exploded. In 2004, being quite new on the (by then, almost over) electroclash scene, I stumbled across the CD single of ‘Professional Distortion’, from debut solo album I Com, on the HMV listening post and, being a fan of her work with Felix Da Housecat, who I adored, I thought I’d give it a try. It remains one of my favourite dance songs of all time to this day, and to be honest I wasn’t sure I’d ever see Kittin perform it, so as the spoken introduction started I truly lost my shit. I don’t remember the next few minutes – all I remember is throwing myself around and screaming every word so loudly it could probably be heard back in 2004. Best. Moment. Of. The. Year. So. Far. That has to be the end, right? This can’t get any better…?
Oh no, it can. And it did. How could the previous song be beaten? I’m glad you ask … the answer is simple. With a costume change into a stunning fetish nurse uniform, she performed an electro classic about Frank Sinatra,
You know Frank Sinatra?
And the rest of the audience clearly agreed with me, as the whole front section of the crowd erupted into a violent, euphoric mosh-pit. The sonic parody of fame, cocaine, promiscuous sex and limousines recorded with electro-industrial god The Hacker, will always remain one of Kittin’s most memorable moments, although I’m not sure if she’d agree. Seeing the crowds reaction to the song, as they scream along to,
Suck my dick, lick my arse,
she asks bemusedly, “why do you always know my most stupid song????”. Then, something happens. It’s slightly distorted, but I’m bloody sure that’s the intro to ‘Vogue’ by Madonna … yes, yes it is. As Kittin begins the famous rap from the centre of the 1990 dance-floor smash, I am so overwhelmed by everything I’m seeing that I can’t even scream anymore and, as we can’t believe our luck at what we’re hearing, she says, “we can do better than that” and launches into the electro rave of ‘Silver Screen/Shower Scene’ – another collaboration with Felix Da Housecat, and probably one of the only songs the uninitiated would know, such was its fame at the time of release. It’s on practically every Electro-House compilation known to man, and it causes yet another explosion in the Mosh Pit. Finishing on the immense ‘Kittin Is High’ (making sure the audience know this is a ‘high’ without drugs), I make my way out of the crowd and observe the dance-floor devastation I was a part of. The room is a swirling, sweating mess – and clearly everyone else enjoyed it as much as me. If you’ve never seen Miss Kittin, whether she is behind a dj booth or onstage (or as is usual in her gigs, somewhere in between) she is a magnetic artist who draws you in and doesn’t let go – and I am happy to say she has also grown into a confident performer who I didn’t want to leave the stage. I’ll definitely be catching her next time she is in London, and for now her back catalogue hasn’t left my iPhone.