ALive & Kicking: Ladytron
November 19, 2008
Carling Academy, Bristol, England
“You don’t really go for blondes, do you?” my sister accurately observed on her recent visit. With that in mind, I knew seeing Ladytron in Bristol wasn’t going to be a bad idea. Plus, it’d been a few months since my last gig and I was ready to be icily electropopped. Also, you know, I like the band. So I hopped in the almost van with Wood and Martin and we were off. Just like that. Like Magic. Light and Magic.
The gig was at the Carling Academy. Venues built specifically with the idea that no matter what sort of music is being performed, it will all feel equally out of place. A look at upcoming shows confirms: Opeth, Alkaline Trio, The Roots. . . ah well. Better than Sin City, at any rate, albeit with worse beer. Seriously, Carling?
The support act, Asobi Sesku was solid; very loud, very pretty, tight and propulsive. None of this quite won Martin over, whose look of “this is thoroughly unimpressive in every right” was evident even dimly lit and in profile. Wood and I quite dug on them, though. The songs were all indebted to shoegaze but were varied enough to give one some options as to what-sort-of-mix-CD they’d go on.
Ladytron took the stage with Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo right up front and the guys with questionable facial hair in the back. This is as it should be. You don’t play rhythm guitar for a band called “Ladytron” and expect an interview in Guitar Player. These guys know what side their bread is buttered on. The women maintained a cool reserve for most of the show as they rocketed through selections from their most recent album, Velocifero. It was all well and fine since that’s the one I’ve got. A bit of a quibble as single “Ghost” felt slowed about a half-step, but “Deep Blue,” “Kletva” and “Forget the Day” were all aces.
The best moment of the show, undoubtedly, was “Seventeen,” when Marnie actually came alive and punched the air like she was at a socialist rally. Starting a revolution. Of angry 21 year olds and the men who empathize. Or something. There are many theories as to why this old, old song (for them) was the highlight of the night—possibly most credible being crowd reaction—but I’d theorize it’s easier to rock out a tune with fewer words. Plus if you fuck up the lyrics you just have to wait a few measures and you can throw down again; yeah!
The encore was a few more new ones and, of course, “Destroy Everything You Touch,” which has been stuck in my head the last couple of days. The show could have been a bit more switched-on, energy wise (as demonstrated by a handful of the cuts that were), but all in all I left satisfied.
Graham Isaac is a long time Nada contributor and spoken word artist.