Download: Ladytron - "Ghosts"
Norwegians Datarock opened up the evening in interesting fashion. Donning matching red sweat suits and with energy to spare they did their part to confound me for most of the set. Their self-titled LP appears fairly straightforward, in that sort of goofy electronica vain, but live Datarock combines the electronic music with all things bloated and absurd about 70's & 80's arena style rock, from the drum solo to overindulged audience participation numbers to a sort of KISS-like self-appreciation (if they stick around long enough will we see the Datarock casket.) The real perplexing part is that it was all done without the slightest hint of irony. They did manage to get the majority of those in attendence jumping, although it probably helps when a member of your band jumps into the crowd and starts inciting people to jump. Mainly I was left wondering, "Do I love this or hate this?" I simply don't know.
Ladytron eventually walked out and backed by a wall of lights, singers Mira Aroyo and Helena Marnie, stepped behind their keyboards at stage front, as if stepping up to the controls within the hull of a space ship. In fact, the whole show felt as if you stepped into some futuristic science fiction film. Like offering a glimpse into a soma induced night out for the Gamma caste from Brave New World. Not in this idea of entertainment for the masses but rather the notion of escapism and Ladytron is capable of offering just that.
In some ways, the show appeared as scripted as a movie in the way everything played out but this should come as no real surprise given the meticulous, well crafted, nature of the music they create. Straight from the outset the band creates a mood and this mood plays as much a part in the show as the music itself. The cohesion between these two elements works right into Ladytron's hands, enhancing their music while giving it all a slight touch of the surreal.
Ladytron swept thru a large portion of their most recent release Velocifero, such as "Black Cat," "Deep Blues," "Season of Illusion" and the undeniably infectious "Ghosts", and touched upon some of the earlier material like "Playgirl" and "International Dateline" as well. Ladytron's specialty is detached, at times almost lifeless, vocals placed a top often thick, metallic sounding electro music. And while the live show provided just that, it also revealed some life behind the vocals. For example, it is one thing to hear vocalist Mira Aroyo singing one of her Bulgarian numbers on album and it is quite another to see her doing it, with mic in hand, while sort of prancing about the stage. On album the vocals can feel every bit as disconnected from the music as the vocal themselves are from emotion. As if they were an echo pumped in over the music. Played live, the two sources converge and create a more uniform sound. Songs that on album may be disregarded or relegated to background music become bolder and more intriguing. While the music as a whole simply engulfs you within its sound.