Ladytron at the Fine Line, 10/3/11

October 3, 2011
Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis

Over the course of the past decade, Ladytron have fashioned an ice-cold persona out of beats and synthesizers that gleam with mechanized cool. But that purposeful detachment might have cost them a connection with their audience that can spell the difference between a good concert and a great one.

The Fine Line was full of eager fans pumping their fists along with every thumping kick drum and surging keyboard lead on what would otherwise be a dull Monday night. The drums were jacked high, at times overpowering lead singer Helen Marnie's vocals. The added attention to the percussion was enough to turn Ladytron's midtempo numbers into dancefloor stormers, letting complementary synth lines bubble towards the bottom of their songs while the drums greedily ate up almost every other aspect of the sound. It's a good thing the crowd didn't seem to want to sing along; they showed their appreciation for their favorites with pure physicality.

Unfortunately, the band didn't follow suit, content to play most of the set with their heads down and moving very little. Ladytron's members were restrained almost to the point of lethargy, letting the strobes behind them handle most of the heavy lifting when it came to the visual aspect of the concert. Sure, the cold-to-the-touch synth pop that Ladytron traffics in doesn't exactly lend itself to frantic bursts of onstage emoting, but without much (if any) deviation from their studio work, the concert played almost like a DJ set: turn the lights up and let the record play.

Even if the show was sadly rote in terms of physical performance, the span of songs was well-received, and fans of all stripes got a little taste of everything Ladytron does well. Favorites from across their discography were represented (aside from "Playgirl" and recent standout "Ninety Degrees") with early work like "Discotraxx" making a late-set appearance alongside new tracks like "Ace of Hz." Though the band focused on beat-heavy cuts for most of the show, there was an uptick in energy towards the end with the stop/start dynamics of "Seventeen," followed by new album opener "White Elephant" and finishing the entire set with anthem "Destroy Everything You Touch."

Even if it was Ladytron-by-the-numbers, fans got what they came for--but no one left sweaty and wide-eyed, and it's hard to imagine they won anyone over. They only did what they were programmed to do.

Personal bias: I like a lot of Ladytron's output (especially Witching Hour), but was expecting more charisma.
The crowd: Energetic for a Monday night and excited to hear their favorites.
Overheard in the crowd: "I was the only one dancing at first, and then everyone around me couldn't stop for even a second."
Random notebook dump: Fashion seems a higher priority for Ladytron this time around. No more black turtlenecks.


Soft Power
International Dateline
High Rise
True Mathematics
White Gold
Ace of Hz
Little Black Angel
Fighting in Built Up Areas

White Elephant
Destroy Everything You Touch

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