Ladytron @ SAT – 4th October 2019

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Ladytron in Montreal

“Hiatus” is one of the scariest words in music.  Oftentimes, it’s a non-committal way of breaking up a band without being too definite about it, and so it’s always a huge relief when a band on hiatus actually comes back!  Ladytron are one such band; after going on hiatus in 2011, they finally dropped a new, self-titled record this year after 8 years away.  And a mighty fine return it is too.

It’s a shame that their long-awaited return to Montreal is booked in the awful Société des Arts Technologiques (S.A.T.) though!  As usual, the view is partially blocked by concrete pillars for everyone in the room except for the first few rows and those stood right down the middle of the room.  The stage setup is exactly the same as for Chromatics back in May, with 3 large screens in a row receiving projections from the further back in the room, and the middle screen being set back on the stage with the band in front.  There is a distinct lack of any stage lightning, with no spotlights on the ceiling and just a few strobe lights around the stage, which makes the show pretty unspectacular from a visual perspective.  Basically, the projections shine onto the band stood in front of the screens, so much so that they almost appear invisible when they stand still!  It’s a shame, as the Thom Yorke show last month showed how much the visuals can add to electronic music when it’s done right.

So with the visual aspect a bit of a disappointment, will the audio make up for it?  Thankfully, the answer is yes.  The new self-titled album obviously gets the most representation, the standouts being the club-anthem You’ve Changed, with its furious tapping hi-hat and deep bassy keys, and The Island, which sees the minimal strobe lights explode around the stage as frontwoman Helen Marnie prowls around it (who, by weird coincidence, with her peroxide-blond 70s vibe, looks exactly like Chromatics Ruth Radelet!). 

The ageless 2005 Witching Hour record still sounds wonderful, with the mysterious International Dateline still sounding both eerie and thunderous at the same time, and of course the classic Destroy Everything You Touch, which closes out the show, draws huge cheers as its rumbling intro builds and builds before erupting into life.  The epic Discotraxx (from 2001’s 604 record) and Seventeen (from 2002’s Light & Magic) provide storming reminders of the band’s electronica origins.  The latter is thoroughly reworked in the live setting with heavy drums and bass, but sounds no less anthemic, as both Helen and keyboardist Mira Aroyo bounce around the stage, riling up the crowd across the floor.

It’s a storming 75 minutes in all, and whilst the Ladytron live show might not be much to look at, it’s still unquestionably a colossal thing to experience!

Setlist

  • 1.    Black Cat
  • 2.    The Island
  • 3.    Ghosts
  • 4.    Soft Power
  • 5.    The Animals
  • 6.    Paper Highways
  • 7.    Deadzone
  • 8.    Runaway
  • 9.    Far From Home
  • 10. Fighting In Built Up Areas
  • 11. International Dateline
  • 12. You’ve Changed
  • 13. Tower Of Glass
  • 14. Discotraxx

Encore

  • 15. White Gold
  • 16. Seventeen
  • 17. Destroy Everything You Touch

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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