Ladytron @ Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis

I listen to a lot of music. While almost all of this music falls into electronica, and mostly dance and DJ music from there, I try to branch out a bit and find artists that sound different than the rest, or ones that sound totally amazing to me. This is probably how most DJs cultivate and shape their careers. At least the ones that actually grow and continue to be relevant, while others drown in the minutia of popular tracks from others.

I find some pretty amazing music, but end up moving on to the next thing after a while. As such, I lose track of the artist. And tend to forget about them, and not really notice if they create anything new, or how their career changes and sound evolves over time. I never really understand them anymore than a single or few tracks from a particular moment in time.

Ladytron

But there are a few musicians that I've kept track of over multiple years, and tend to shape my own opinion and taste in music. One of these bands is Ladytron. Ladytron has four members, Mira and Helen trade off singing vocals, while Daniel and Reuben are always on synths in the background. I started listening to these guys towards the end of college in 2005 and 2006.

They've been around since 1999, and if I heard some of their tracks from the beginning, I probably would have shrugged them off and went on to something else. In fact, who knows... I probably did back in the day, and don't remember. Most of their original songs were kinda emo and seemed to speak to teenage girls. Their first two albums consisted of several songs dealing with boyfriends and modeling.

Witching Hour + Velocifero

Around the time I started listening to them, their sound had evolved. Their third album, Witching Hour (2005), focused much more on the beat and progression of the songs, rather than the lyrics. The lyrics served as flavor text to captivate the audience, while the beat hooks them in. "High Rise", "Destroy Everything You Touch", "International Dateline", and "Fight in Built up areas" are all pretty bad ass. I think High Rise might be my favorite song.

Velocifero (2008), their fourth album, continued with their more layered rocking atmosphere, but seemed to dial a little bit back, rather than push forward. Ladytron went on tour in early 2009, which is when I saw them for the first time.

Ladytron @ Metro, Chicago // April 4th, 2009

After they finished up the tour, it seemed like they disappeared. They didn't produce any new music. They didn't go on tour. They hardly did anything at all. Apparently, there was rumor of them breaking up circulating last year. I think Helen and Mira went off and worked on some new things of their own, while Daniel and Reuben worked on some new songs.

Gravity the Seducer

And then, early this year, it seemed like a flood of Ladytron news hit the Internet. They had a brand new single, and an upcoming compilation album focusing on their first ten years, as well as a remix album. In the middle of the year, they announced their fifth album, Gravity the Seducer, along with a tour promoting the CD!

While some of the songs on their new CD follow the same vein as Velocifero, Gravity the Seducer has several tracks that are much more ambient than anything they've done before. It's somewhat odd because the two sounds don't really compliment each other. White Elephant, Ace of Hz, and Mirage build up the album with their classic sound, while White Gold, Moon Palace, Altitude Blues etc bring it to a different place.

I wonder if this inconsistency was born from their unofficial hiatus and rumored breakup. Maybe Reuben and Daniel were working on this direction when Mira and Helen came back.

Tour in Minneapolis!

Anyway, last night!, their North American tour came through Minneapolis. I rented a car, and met up with my little sister to see them live. The Fine Line Music Cafe is a fantastic venue where I've seen some of my favorite concerts of all time, including Hybrid on November 14th, 2003 and Moby on October 5th, 2009.

The place slowly filled up with fans, and the crowd was rather diverse and odd. You had your typical hipster-like youth, and the slightly older alternative crowd. There were also a couple of punkers there. And the typical concert going music lovers, like myself. In addition, there were several older patrons who I would not expect to find at the place. One of these guys even talked with me at length at how he's such a fan of Ladytron, and how no one he knows has even heard of them before. I wonder if this is how it'll be for me in 15 years.

Musician Sonoio was on opening duties, and he warmed up the crowd with his eclectic music. I'm not really sure how to describe his music. It was definitely experimental, but felt like it had a tinge of Japanoise thrown on top. Not like over the top Japanoise, but a more mellow ambient rendition. I dunno... His music did not speak to me. And the crowd swayed back and forth to his performance in anticipation of the main act.

Sonoio finished up, and started packing away his stuff. Ladytron roadies took the stand, and performed sound checks. One of the roadies pasted the set list to the floor... Well... Now I know exactly what they're going to play for the night.

The set list is as follows:

1. Soft Power - Witching Hour
2. International Dateline - Witching Hour
3. Mirage - Gravity the Seducer
4. Ghosts - Velocifero (video)
5. High Rise - Witching Hour
6. True Mathematics - Light & Magic
7. White Gold - Gravity the Seducer (video)
8. Runaway - Velocifero
9. Ace of Hz - Gravity the Seducer (video)
10. Little Black Angel - Best of 00-10
11. Discotraxx - 604
12. Fighting in Built up Areas - Witching Hour
13. Seventeen - Light & Magic

Encore: (video)
1. White Elephant - Gravity the Seducer
2. Destroy Everything You Touch - Witching Hour

Performance

Ladytron were pretty damn awesome.

They actually sounded much better than I've ever heard them live before.

In all of the live recordings on their albums, they always sounded a bit off. The levels never matched the album versions of their songs. The drums were either too loud, or not enough. Some of the synths weren't harmonizing together. It was a muted experience. And that was reflected when I saw them in 2009. It was the exact same sound as their live stuff.

But that wasn't the case this time. Not only were all the levels at the perfect balance, and everything harmonized together, it was amplified ten fold and actually engulfed the audience in the atmosphere present from their fantastic songs of Witching Hour. Also, I was right up from next to the speaker, so that helped too.

With the exception of Gravity the Seducer, I've listening to their other songs over and over again, so there weren't many surprises that came out of the night. The whole audience kept in a constant groove as Ladytron went down their set list. I kind of wish I hadn't seen that ahead of time. <_<

Things did change when they hit "Fighting in Built up Areas." That song really popped, and threw down a dancey beat. Everyone was hopping around. My little sister wasn't too impressed with the evening until they hit this beat.

Overall, I thought the concert was pretty fantastic. These songs have never sounded as great as they did in The Fine Line. Listening to their album version doesn't do the night justice. I recorded a couple moments from the night, but I think "Fighting in Built up Areas", "High Rise", and "Little Black Angel" were the highlights for me.

Also! My little sister and I got a poster of "White Elephants" signed by Mira, Helen, Reuben and Daniel.

Score!




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