Beep, beep, beepity beep...
In Spain, Ladytron’s immaculate electro-pop regularly causes quite a commotion. Now, as the 80s disco bandwagon slips into a higher gear, similar scenes of adulation are to be seen here. This, their largest London headline show, is sold out. Fans sport smart black attire and eyeliner in their honour. Bobby Gillespie, Myleene Hear’say and, crikey, Brian Molko nod approvingly in the wings, while Andrew Weatherall’s pre- and post-show DJ sets provide further kudos. You could almost call this an event.
Detached, cold, handsome and intriguing, the once-Liverpool-based quartet of Mira, Reuben, Danny and Helena perform their eccentric Moog-fuelled electronics with a Kraftwerkian [I]froideur[/I], even communicating between songs in R2-D2 bleeps and burps. In thrall to the technology and ideas of the past, their instruments are bulky and analogue – Ladytron are a cute anachronism which in its current incarnation, as the band are aware, has a finite shelf-life.
If their debut album ‘604’ proved that 60s beat-pop vocal melodies can flow harmoniously over propulsive Giorgio Moroder grooves (‘He Took Her To A Movie’ and pretty new single ‘Playgirl’), it was let down by a strict adherence to a sound and style first executed 20 years ago by Visage and, briefly, The Passions.
Where acts such as Adult. mutate this to their advantage, a dozen Ladytron tunes in succession, as uniformly pleasant as they are tonight, only highlight their limited appeal. Phase one of this project is complete, then; phase two, in which Ladytron create the thrilling music that fully reflects their capabilities, should be far more rewarding.