There are not a whole lot of degrees between cool and being cold. On record, Ladytron has always affected a certain disaffected air, and live they come close to crossing over to the alienating side of performance. Alienation can be intentional.
The opener at the Regency Sunday night, SONOIO (Alessandro Cortini, formerly of Nine Inch Nails), hidden beneath a hooded sweatshirt, fetally crouched at the edge of the stage near the electric firelight of a single flickering bulb, and sang into an umbilical cord of rope lighting. It was a pose which meant a very intimate show for a five foot radius. (Unable to see anything further back, I spaced out and thought the following story concept: A mad scientist discovers how to swap minds and switches with a newborn baby in
an attempt to make up for his shitty childhood.)
Opening slowly with “Soft Power” from 2005’s Witching Hour before getting into new track “Mirage” and the haunting “Ghosts,” Ladytron wasn’t rushing it. The only movement on stage seemed to be the billowing of singer Helen Marnie’s draped sleeves, as the musicians performed like scientists in a lab (focused, if not outwardly passionate.) Predominately four people with synthesizers, Ladytron had a drummer on stage, and his heavy kick was a welcome addition (the coupling of the pulsing bass beat and brilliant red strobes on “Little Black Angel” was a near seizure inducing experience.)
More often than not, though, I couldn’t tell if Ladytron was effortlessly performing, or performing without any effort. The band gets labeled as having a cult following, and there was definitely some collective captivation. Instead of raucous calls for an encore, Ladytron submitted to strangely well choreographed “woo-oooh”s from the audience.
“I like your singing,” Marnie said, returning to the stage, before launching into “White Elephant,” the opener and standout of their new record, Gravity the Seducer. “Destroy Everything You Touch” was last and meant Ladytron was going out on a high note. As a flourish, the drummer closed with an incongruously animated, over-the-top outro. A suggestion perhaps, that he was in the wrong band.
All photos by Stephen Ho.