Monday, November 17, 2008

Fez Fayre

Ladytron/Asobi Seksu, Kasbah, Primrose Hill Street, Coventry, Saturday November 15 2008, 7.30pm.

And so Dead Kenny sent himself to Coventry at the weekend, despite dire warnings of what your electropoppin' eejit might find there, and discovered that twenty-seven years on from The Specials No.1 hit single, this town's still comin' like a Ghost Town. But luckily also found that the Kasbah was a cool, funky oasis cunningly hidden therein, and kept the Aegean theme continuous with a cheeky chow-down beforehand at nearby World Kebab.

Being used to Birmingham's sweltering Academy venues where the bands regularly ruminate on the ghastly heat, it came as something of a cultural shock to see the guitarist from support act Asobi Seksu having to repeatedly blow into his hands before getting the set started. Reassuring that even glacial popsters don't like the air-conditioning set at antarctic levels, don't you think?

Fortunately things warmed up soon enough with Yuki Chikudate's sweet, ethereal but surprisingly robust singing melting hearts while the rest of the band contributed significant power surges to provide the shoegazing post-rock equivalent to global warming. Entrancing stuff, mainly taken from last year's bittersweet confection 'Citrus', given a light dusting of catharsis when Chikudate whipped off her plaid overshirt, muscled the drummer out of the way and pounded the skins for the set coda. Fans of Cocteau Twins and Lush who haven't yet explored Asobi Seksu (Japanese for playful sex, if you believe Wikipedia) should make amends with immediate effect.

By the time headliners, and lest ye forget, Britain's Best Pop Band (Ever?)(TM), Ladytron made the stage, the Turkish-themed club was filling out and a warm glow was starting to radiate amongst the expectant crowd. The girls were dressed in tasteful black satin as they joined Danny and Reuben on stage to the instrumental intro from third album 'Witching Hour', and two distinctive trends emerged very quickly as the set developed. Firstly, it is Mira Aroyo who takes on the role of talking (albeit in soft, quiet tones) between songs, and also the set (perhaps reflecting the balance of latest album Velocifero) sees a much more equal share of vocal chores between her and Helen Marnie than on the 'Witching Hour' shows.

Ladytron even had the confidence to drop in the superlative 'Seventeen' midway through the show rather than saving it for once-inevitable encore (the majestic 'Destroy Everything You Touch' got that honour). 'Seventeen' is still (rightly) a highlight of the show but it blended in better with the entire oeuvre in its central slot, with recent singles Ghosts and Runaway meeting equivalent approval from the mostly sharp and stylish crowd. Not all of the live interpretations particularly worked for your sceptical scribe however, the intricate melody and sentiment of 'International Dateline' near drowned in a drum-heavy treatment, and 'Deep Blue' making a late recovery from a muted, murky intro.

But Mira, Mira, as Dead Kenny is the fairest blogger of 'em all, he'll conclude on the hugely positive note that the snaky hypnotics of 'Black Cat' and 'Season Of Illusions' were the biggest revelations of the night, both in terms of their rendition and reception. The otherness of these songs may be a more difficult sell commercially, but perversely give them an edge over their rivals. Nobody's ever done better what Ladytron do, and doubtless no-one ever will, and how many of their contemporaries can you say that about?

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Blogger Ben said...

You're quite fond of them, aren't you? ;)

I did think seriously about going to the Oxford show tonight (drawn mainly by the prospect of seeing Asobi Seksu, I must confess - Citrus is pretty good), but in the end decided against it. May possibly live to regret it, but I have been to an awful lot of gigs lately.

Out of interest (and this is probably something I've asked you before), which Ladytron album would you recommend as a starter for ten?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Ben, there's arguments for each, but given your tastes I'd probably opt for Witching Hour, as it's got more of a shoegaze-y sheen. Light and Magic's bit more dark and funky, 604 is a bit more sparse and retro, Velocifero leans more towards goth pop. Oh, buy all 4, and succumb to fandom!

11:43 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Really should have gone - had an absolute 'mare at 5-a-side...

10:56 PM  

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