There aren't too many acts I would leave my hospital bed to go and see but I literally did just that for Isabel Guzman, discharging myself from Charing Cross A&E at 6pm to make it to the concert on time - complete with hospital wristband and ECG tags still attached! While perhaps not the wisest decision, there was no way I was going to miss the Swedish sensation's UK debut. From the moment I heard "Love Song" on Rob's brilliant Don't Stop The Pop way back in July 2007, I've been completely smitten. I hate to think how much time Rob and I have spent dissecting Isabel's brilliant demos and planning her future world domination. Needless to say, the opportunity to see the woman strut her stuff at Pop Justice Live was positively irresistible and she did not disappoint. Isabel was completely fucking AMAZING. Sadly, the same can't be said about the other acts on the bill.
Antigone - doing Australia proud
I don't want to waste too much time writing about the rest of the line up because, quite frankly, they were all shit. 15 year old Charli XCX displayed no discernible talent apart from the ability to roll around on a table with her legs in the air. The next performer to hit the stage was my much hyped compatriot Antigone, who rocked up looking like Ronald McDonald's banged up love child. The girl definitely knows how to work a crowd but her voice was shaky and none of her other tracks live up to the promise of "More Man Than Man", which she memorably sang to a blow-up doll lying on an ironing board. Kudos though for dragging Pop Justice Live further down into the gutter. I was actually looking forward to the third act. I saw a Red Blooded Women showcase a couple of months ago and was quite impressed with the girls but they weren't up to scratch last night. The highlight was Candy complaining of a mouth ulcer between songs. Enough said.
After listening to the dregs of the pop world ply their trade for two hours, Isabel's UK debut couldn't come quickly enough. Mercifully, it was worth the wait. From the moment Isabel took to the stage with her fantastic (and very hot!) three piece band, it was immediately clear that we were about to witness something special. The set opened with a stunning new track called "There Must Be Something", which perfectly showcased Isabel's impressive pipes and her knack for writing an insanely catchy chorus. The song has hit written all over it. Next up was Isabel's UK debut "Mysterious". I really like the studio version (check out my review) but the band breathed new life into the track. It sounded darker and heavier - with no trace of "My Sherona" to be heard! Speaking of re-worked tunes, "All In Your Head" has also been given a complete makeover. I wasn't a huge fan of the original version but the new edit packs one hell of a punch.
If I had to choose a highlight of the evening it would be Isabel's exquisite rendition of "Love Song" - without a doubt THE best unreleased pop anthem of recent years. I'm sure I've listened to the track at least once a day for the past 15 months, so finally hearing it performed live (with Rob, no less!) was utterly magical. If the electric response from the audience is any indication, "Love Song" has the potential to be absolutely massive. One of the most interesting aspects of the show was the extent to which previously leaked songs have been refined and improved. I loved "The First Time" when Isabel briefly posted it on her Myspace several months ago but the version she performed on Monday night was in a completely different league. Imagine a cross between 80s Madonna and Dannii circa "Neon Nights" and you get some indication of the track's brilliance. The final song was an edgy dance anthem called "In The Heat Of The Night", which expertly displayed Isabel's versatility and crazy dance moves. In fact, the Swedish diva was a revelation from beginning to end. Isabel is deceptively tiny but she has real presence and a killer set of pipes. It doesn't hurt that she's also gorgeous and an absolute sweetheart! Consider the UK well and truly rocked.