If you've been paying attention, you will understand that I have a certain fondness for Ladytron. This was initially born from a hearing of their single 'Seventeen', and then from the album Light & Magic from whence it sprung. That album is still very much my favourite, but there are tracks on their others that also meet my approval. I also use and endorse Softcore Jukebox, their compilation of tunes they like.
But for all my love of the Tron, I have long failed to catch them live. While they had come over to Ireland a couple of times, it was always either to deliver DJ sets at clubs for kewl people or to play at one of those boorish music festivals the young people like. So I was rather excited when they announced a concert in Dublin's Tripod, a short hop from where I live. My beloved and I found ourselves there, where we ran into old pals Justin and Catherine. The old memory is not the best, so I cannot tell you if there was a support band.
I suppose you have some familiarity with Ladytron? They were one of those synthesiser bands, comprising two men and two women. They all play the synths, but the women also sing. In their early days, they really went for it with the whole synthesiser weirdo thing, appearing in photographs wearing uniform tunics. Their look is a bit less extreme now, but still pretty severe. Musically… well, it's synthpop, surely you know what that sounds like? Ladytron belong to the deadpan vocals school of synthpop, though they are not so robotic as the likes of Kraftwerk.
I thought maybe the concert was a bit slow to start, partly down to the sound quality being initially a bit shite, with the vocals in particular being mixed down a bit low. This is a bit problematic in a band where the singing is a key part of the package, for all that even on record it is not very in your face. There was also the curious fact that the Ladytron ladies ended up coming across as being a bit *shy*, something you don't want in a band that is meant to be fronted by implacable sex androids. I thought they could have been a bit more drilled – while 'Seventeen' was totally great, it would have been even better if the two women had been able to dance in rigid formation.
Things did pick up, though, and by the end phrases like "best gig ever" were being uttered by some people. This was basically because the mixing improved, so the vocals became audible. Result. Still, the band did seem to fluff 'Destroy Everything You Touch' (standout track from the Witching Hour album), which they played as part of an encore.
For all that this gig write-up is mainly a load of nitpicks, you must understand that this concert was a big bag of fun, and I can't wait for Ladytron to come back and party down my town (although I probably won't go and see them in November, as I need to spread the love).
Before moving on to the vital post gig loafing in which we engaged, I should mention the crowd. There were plenty of trend people and haircuts present, but there were also a load of seriously ugly blokes in the audience. By ugly, I mean even more muntery than me. I'm not sure if they were there because they reckoned they were in with a shout for some Ladytron lady action, or whether they recognised a kindred spirit in the bloke from Ladytron with the heroically nasty tache. But we are all God's children.
After the concert, we hung out with Justin and Catherine, and the backroom DJ played some long LCD Soundsystem tune about running. It seemed pretty good. There was also some song by Hercules & Love Affair played, these being one of those disco art project get-togethers, that features vocals by yer man Antony from Antony & The Fucking Johnsons. In this context, stripped of the "lovely song" connotations that drag him down normally, his vocal contribution seemed quite impressive, so I may even acquire the H&LA record some time when I want to get down with the kewl sounds of today. And then Justin & Catherine went home to rescue their baby sitter. Before leaving ourselves, my beloved and I wandered into the main area again, now transformed into a dance music night club… and what seemed like a pretty good one, judging by the banging tunes, nice lights, not totally wankerish crowd, and general room to dance. If you are ever in Dublin and feel like an old-school night out dancing, you could do worse than hit the Tripod on a Friday night.