Concerts Music

Resistance was futile

Ladytron pioneered during the early 21st century electroclash boom, but has prevailed while many others have given up. The Liverpudlian foursome is fronted by two cutting edge entertainment units, Mira Aroyo, a Bulgarian import, and Helen Marnie. The males, Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu, stay in the shadows and concentrate on knob-twiddling and as of late, guitar maltreatment.  Their 2001 debut album 604 laid the groundwork with its cool, detached female vocals and vintage 1980 sounds coupled with fuzzy glam/punk for street cred. It was followed by the darker, more honed Light And Magic in 2002. For the next three years the band toured and worked on their latest, Witching Hour, which was released in 2005 and featured a matured, slightly more mainstream sound. The crossover from pure electronica to a broader pop sound has admittedly boosted Ladytron's popularity and songs from Witching Hour were received with much enthusiasm. But at times the new tour line-up with added bass and drums proved problematic with older songs: some of the innovative beats were drowned by the drummer's heavy-handed treatment of his kit. The impassively sexy cult hit Seventeen suffered especially, since its trademark bouncy drum machine loops were replaced by a monotonic thumping. On the other hand the added instruments did fatten the sound and worked fine for the most part.  In terms of visual style Ladytron has always been a fascinating mix of socialist uniformity, robotics and 80's futurism. The band has since switched uniforms and gender-concealing haircuts to sexier kimonos and the two frontwomen are taking some steps away from lurking behind their Korg synthesisers. Not much movement took place on stage though, but the lights and background visuals were atmospheric enough. The most lyrical moments were undoubtedly a chilling rendition of Soft Power, with its dystopian lyrics (we're not sleeping at the wheel / the wheel is turning the machine / that kills / for us…) echoing in the dark, or the dismal techno anthem Fighting In Built Areas, with Mira's Bulgarian vocals sounding about as warm and human as a dentist's drill. Aside from sending shivers down your spine the Ladytron apparatus also managed to compel most of the club to twist and shout, especially to older, more punky tunes such as the irresistible Playgirl. And after all, underneath the clinical, unfeeling machine surface there were very human feelings at work: things like loneliness, fear and longing. Moving away from a tight, well thought out concept seems to have brought more shades (of grey and black) into Ladytron's soundscapes, but also deeper human emotion. But that doesn't mean cracks in the system. Resistance is futile against the Korg.

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