Ladytron, Stealing Sheep: O2 Academy, Liverpool
After a seven year absence, Ladytron return for a homecoming at the O2 Academy. Shaun Ponsonby finds out if they still destroy everything they touch.
During the summer, Planet Slop were watching former Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears at the Arts Club. Midway through the show he announced that his favourite Liverpool band was Ladytron.
That very week, they released The Island from their forthcoming self-titled comeback album, which served as a fitting appetiser for tonight’s homecoming show.
Straight away, it becomes clear that the band retain an odd cross-section of followers. The crowd is made up of demographics that one wouldn’t necessarily expect to see at the same gig. It is a testament to their sound; Ladytron can be as accessible as they can be experimental.
That experimentation doesn’t begin and end with their music. They present us with a similar philosophy to early Pink Floyd performances in so much as the band are almost anonymous on stage, with other visuals being our focus. For this short run of shows, Ladytron have three large screens at the back of the stage, showing numerous pop art-inspired projections.
At times, we couldn’t help but ponder whether there were deeper meanings behind the projections – why did they become black and white during Ghosts? What did the Planet Krypton-looking spheres represent in Black Cat? Perhaps it would take further viewings to truly take it all in.
The visuals did compliment the music perfectly. At once feeling both retro and futuristic, it was a natural extension, and a perfect match not just musically, but for the textures of vocalist Helen Marnie’s voice. Bands as experimental as Ladytron can often feel a little isolating for some audiences due to their aloofness, but Marine has a quality to her voice that is oddly welcoming and comforting. Undoubtedly, she is the human element of the band that sets them apart.
Although classics such as the wildly acclaimed Destroy Everything You Touch and Seventeen, memorably featured in the cult movie Party Monster, were always going to be among the favourites of the night, it was the double whammy of new song The Animals and 2008’s Runaway which provided the true highlight of the night – an intense moment of driving rock & synth that lifted the show to its highest plane.
The new album won’t be released until next year, and as a result tonight almost felt like a warm up for something bigger coming down the line. But, suffice to say, they successfully managed to whet our appetites.
You really couldn’t have found a more perfect opening act than Stealing Sheep. Though regulars at most events in the city, it is always interesting to see what they will come up with.
Tonight, dressed in what appeared to be flesh coloured body suits, they proved that they have almost picked up the baton from Ladytron during their absence. Naturally, they do this in their own way, but they managed to strike the perfect balance between preparing us for the main event, and proving their own worth. That they did it so effortlessly is confirmation that there was likely no other act in the city who could have taken the gig.
Pictures by Brian Sayle