I intended to get to this Ladytron post last week. But like a broken record that keeps skipping to the same beat, I’ve been consistently distracted and diverted from pouring energy into this blog. I guess that can’t be helped, when you’re trying to compose these write-ups in your unpaid free time. I mean, I do it for the love of it. But still … it’d sure be nice to get a regular uninterrupted block of time and energy to do these posts justice.
Anyway, I’ve got some time right now, and hopefully enough energy, to spend with British indie electronic act Ladytron. They performed at the Fonda Theatre in L.A. back on the 1st of the month, the second of two sold-out shows. Like I said, it’s a few weeks late. But this one’s worth it. They’re really quite amazing live, almost like an ’80s-inspired electro-psychedelic-new-wave art-pop experience, filled with vibrant techno projections, walls of synths, strangely hypnotic monochromatic dream vocals, and mesmeric trance-inducing rhythmic repetitions.
Obviously, I’ve never seen them before. But I’ve always wanted to … ever since a friend/co-worker introduced me to their sound back in 2005. We were driving to lunch one day, listening to “Destroy Everything You Touch” and “International Dateline.”
At the time, I was working for this video game cable network called G4. I haven’t thought about it before. But in retrospect, Ladytron was an appropriate score to my then-current personal and professional world. Weird and serendipitous.
That brings me to now. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Ladytron. But at the expense of sounding cliché, I’ve heard many great things. And I’ve had plenty of years to wrap my head around their unique blend of synth-based pop, sometimes dream-laced, others shoegazed, and quite often, just slightly eccentric in an artsy new wave krautrock kind of way, but with less guitars and more keyboards.
Live, Ladytron is remarkably high energy, very dance-oriented, without ever slipping into techno house progressions of the typical electronica variety. They’re almost like experimental euro-disco with abstracted indie pop structures. Mira Aroyo’s Bulgarian vocals play quite keenly to those notes, while lead vocalist Helen Marnie leans more heavily into the wispy ethereal. Both also play synths. But on stage, the pair are backed by a full complement, with live percussion and guitars, adding some warm organics to the mix. It really fills out the sound, strengthening and intensifying it.
Ladytron performed a lot of material, pulling from all six of their albums, keeping the energy rolling for a cool and sleek 90 minutes. I’m not going to get into all the details of every track. But I will say they did perform their aforementioned hits “Destroy Everything You Touch” and “International Dateline,” as well as electro-infused oldies like “Playgirl” and “Seventeen.” They also did a selection of new stuff from their latest self-titled release “Ladytron,” my favorites being “The Island” and “Deadzone.” The rest, I’ll leave for you to explore.
This time around, I’m featuring more footage than usual. It’s not the whole show. But it’s most of it. I just really loved this performance, and want to revisit it again and again. Ladytron sounds fantastic, vibrant and full, and slightly offbeat … in a good way. And the visuals are also tons of weird fun, kind of retro-techno-psychedelic, like an ’80s video arcade game blasted through a lava lamp and splashed on-screen in multi-hued pastels. It’s perfect for their indie brand of synth-pop sound.
Ladytron perform “The Island” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Ghosts” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Soft Power” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “The Animals” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Paper Highways” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Deadzone” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Runaway” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Fighting in Built Up Areas” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “International Dateline” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Discotraxx” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “White Gold” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Playgirl” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Seventeen” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
Ladytron perform “Destroy Everything You Touch” @ the Fonda on 03.01.19.
And if you made it this far, here’s a playlist of the full setlist to Ladytron’s Fonda performance on 03.01.19.