Friday, April 07, 2006

Everything You Do Is Never Enough

A Late Night With Ladytron, Ether Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Friday March 24 2006.

This is it. Dead Kenny's finally been rumbled, and it feels good. Mira Aroyo is heading in his direction, a beaming smile of recognition on her face, clearly fizzing with excitement at some delicious bit of news or gossip she is about to impart to her biggest blogging admirer. However, with the just the briefest bemused glance at your correspondent, she brushes past to a clearly more deserving geezer standing just behind him. Foiled again! But don't despair too heartily, dear readers, because just as Groucho Marx didn't want to be a member of any club who'd have him, Dead Kenny prefers his distant icequeen crushes to be too busy translating genetics seminars in twenty different languages before quaffing LCD crystal cocktails and then engaging in non-stop roborumpy with anatomically correct sexbots to have time to stop for smalltalk with sweaty fanboys. And to be just a pre-Raphaelite curl's breadth away from greatness certainly adds an extra frisson for what is already shaping up to be a sensational evening's entertainment.

Shaking, if not yet stirred, knock back a double Jack Daniels while watching the first act, Tetine, (imagine the Brazilian equivalents to Eminem and Peaches) warm things up with an energetic and downright rude combination of sleazy electro, slamming hip-hop and performance video. Standout song is 'Lick My Favela' which my cunning linguistics department translates as being quite possibly just as pervy as it sounds.

Wander into the Purcell Room where there's an 'eccentric' Russian busker guy by the name of 386DX goofing around with his laptop while miming his(?) street covers of Nirvana songs and sundry other rock classics. It's entertaining in a wtf? kind of way, but some guy who looks suspiciously like Chris Morris is lurking around behind the curtains which gives me the uneasy feeling this is some kind of set-up to have a good laugh on C4 about how gloriously gullible South Bank crowds can be when succumbing to DIY kitsch.

Feel a bit silly about the last concern when the guy who looks like Chris Morris turns out to be the next act on - Candie Hank (not a name to bandied around too freely in the land of rhyming slang), a 'Cologne-based lo-fi electro rock pioneer' who used to be part of Digital Hardcore. There's nothing too revolutionary about what he's doing, but he does manage to liven things up somewhat before people inevitably drift off to take their seats nextdoor for headliners Ladytron. 'Hey! where are you going?'demands our lo-fi electro rock pioneer, 'DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!' Just to remind you, his name is Candie Hank: sweet name, sour puss. Or maybe it really is Chris Morris, after all!

And so, squeeze into my seat just as Ladytron start off their set from the lofty heights of latest album opener 'High Rise'. The audience seems more male, and more specifically more gay male, than regional shows your correspondent has attended, while Ladytron are sporting their same outfits and play pretty much the same set as their Birmingham show back in October. But that's OK with Dead Kenny as he likes those outfits (they probably have an army of roboslaves who lick their laundry clean each and every night) and loves the set, which finds 'Witching Hour' heavily represented and Aroyo's turn on 'Fighting In Built-Up Areas' again the startling revelation. The way the rhythm coils itself around your celebral cortex is probably the nearest sonic equivalent to orgasm by proxy of near-asphyxiation - just when you feel the song will never let go it finally leaves you in a puddled jelly of your own excitement (we trust the cleaners get paid double time).

There are three encores (including the outstanding 'Last Man Standing') before the predictably brilliant finale of 'Seventeen' when Aroyo and an increasingly ecstatic Helen Marnie (who is developing into a sufficiently sexy siren to give Alison Goldfrapp a rum catfight for her electropop glamqueen crown) join forces to sing possibly the greatest, simplest, pop classic of the Parallax View era. Nobody wants it to end, and quite frankly it very nearly doesn't as they manage to stretch that hook over something like a dozen spiralling minutes. Anybody complaining, though, should be thrown to the alligators, quite frankly.

Back out in the foyer, Tetine come on to play another set. Well, actually, it's the same set as before, but nobody seems to mind, and with an additional few hours' worth of alcoholic fuel in their systems the audience is considerably more appreciative and mobile, so much so the Sao Paulo electrosex combo start tossing promo CDs around like frisbees. Dead Kenny used to be a rubbish slip fielder so he goes home happy but empty-handed - they'll have to lick their own favelas tonight after all, then.



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