Is it me, or did Ladytron rise without trace?
From their early days as a severe electro-domina band, all uniforms, glassy stares, and left-field electronix, they've now become bona-fide pop stars, able to sell out the Astoria at the drop of a hat. Maybe the nation's electro-pop kids tumbled to the fact that underneath the frosty demeanour, Ladytron are actually a nifty pop group, catchy tunes and memorable choruses a-go-go.
Or maybe it's because Ladytron themselves aren't quite as frosty as they used to be. It's not like they come bounding on stage wearing big grins, shouting 'Hello London! Are ya ready to rock?' or anything, but tonight there's definitely a touch of sunshine about them these days, rather than the relentless electronic winter of the band's early incarnation.
Ladytron aren't quite as electronic as they used to be, either. Standing in line in the background, keyboard-jockeys Daniel Hunt and Rueben Wu are joined by a couple of anonymous muso-blokes handling bass and guitar chores. In front of them, the twin vocalists of Helen Marnie and Bulgarian-born Mira Arroyo (it is, apparently, a contractual requirement for all reviewers to refer to Mira Arroyo as 'Bulgarian born' see the nearest bit of Ladytron press coverage for confirmation) give the band its identity, and, in the case of Mira Arroyo, it must be said, its chyk appeal.
Curiously, Mira does seem to attract her own fan club, who, it seems, regard her as kindahawt. I say 'curiously' because this kind of fan-devotion seems to be unique to Ladytron, and unique to Mira. It just doesn't happen, as far as I can make out, with, say, Client B of Client, who surely has equal supercool (and, indeed, kidahawt) electro-chyk credentials. That's the irrationality of fandom for you, I suppose.
It's a set of greatest hits and new album highlights, delivered with glacial cool by Mira Arroyo and Helen Marnie, who stand impassively amid the retro-futuristic lighting rig as the nimble electropop of the band tumbles around them.
The boys keep things anonymous in the background, barely looking up from their instruments. Ladytron might have thawed a little these days, but they have not unbent sufficiently to put on a show. If it wasn't for the retro-futurist lighting rig, frankly there would be little to look at.
But still, songs such as 'Seventeen' and 'Blue Jeans' are bona fide modern classics, and if not every Ladytron number has that insistent catchiness and blue-lit cool, enough of them come close enough to make it all work.
Then, suddenly, it all stops working. A fuse has blown, or something: the monitors have gone kaput. although the out-front sound is still present and correct, the band can't continue. so the gig terminates short of its destination, and Ladytron leave the stage with promises of a replacement gig in the near future.
It's a disappointment, but in a way, what I've seen is enough. The truncated set was sufficient to demonstrate what Ladytron do: the neat, catchy, off-kilter electro, delivered with a reserved minimalism that may not be quite as frostily severe these days as in the past, but still makes the band intriguingly counter-intuitive pop stars.