There is something wonderfully disarming about going to see a band who completely confound your expectations. Ritual
It’s not necessarily that Little Dragon changed their sound for the live set up, more they have injected it with steroids, dressed it in ravers apparel, dimmed the lights and let the dancing commence. They straddle the perfect line between gig and club atmosphere. More standard pop songs like ‘Ritual Union’ or ‘Little Man’ are executed with perfect pop precision whilst others ooze the 4am dizzy euphoria of electronica club nights.
In comparison to ‘Ritual Union’, songs such as ‘Summertearz’ sounded flimsy on record. However, live it is transformed into a rhythmically and melodically, muscular, futuristic-club anthem. The driving beats, the exuberant, bouncy synths and singer Yukimi Nagano’s distinctive vocals and cool-as-fuck persona make the experience far more vivid and colourful. The band experiment with shifts in dynamics and rhythms, adding a mercurial nature to their songs with hypnotic crescendos, half-bar break downs and seemingly improvised instrumentals. At any moment they can switch from Björk-esque pop experimentation, Depeche Mode abrasive-industrial electronica sensibilities, Prince’ funky bass and rhythm or all three at once. And never a beat out of time.
Nagano is a fantastically dynamic front woman. She swoops and sways round the stage like a mythical shaman; at other points she is a playful pixie, dancing and hitting various cowbells, tambourines and multicoloured drum samplers. Yet she never draws the attention solely on to herself, maintaining a healthy layer of enigmatic charm so’s not to distract from the show being about everyone having a good time – something which the band as a whole are obviously very good at. But what is most remarkable about Nagano is her understated and soulful voice. Interspersed with
the occasional subtle use of vocoder or mirroring a futuristic synth melody, her voice cuts through the music, reaching out to you as if you’re the only person in the room. It’s that seemingly effortless power and command that has people moving, whether they intended to or not.
But a party always has to end. After that rarest of things, a deserved and desired encore, it was all over. Little Dragon proved to themselves to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable live acts and the best party band around. Don’t miss them next February! You’ll find me down the front.