I have a confession to make. I hate the 80s. Songs I once enjoyed from the era, due to incessant overplay, now rankle and inspire head banging of the against-the-wall variety. The problem lies with the repetition however, rather than the music itself. Which is why Ladytron and supporting acts Geographer and SONONIO were a fresh breath of something familiar. The heavily synthesized acts reminisced of New Wave but were never so stale.
Alessandro Cortini of Nine Inch Nails opened the show in his third ever live show as SONOIO. Confining himself to kneeling on a small platform surrounded by pulsing lights, moving only to manipulate sound on his portable synthesizer unit, SONOIO put on a subdued performance that, along with the muffled audio, didn’t do him justice: Cortini makes excellent, compelling tracks to sing or shake your ass to. I’m hoping to soon see him elevated – literally, raised up on a higher platform so he can be seen and can really work the crowd. Cuz he’s good stuff. Looking forward to seeing SONOIO again when he’s found his live groove.
Geographer of San Francisco, comprised of singer Michael Deni, cellist Nathan Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher played a solid set that continued the New Wave-y theme of the evening. Characterized by audio manipulation, synthesizers and graceful melodies, Geographer created an ethereal electronic soundscape with Deni’s croons and fantastic bass accompaniment by Blaz on the cello. “Verona” was the standout track of the set, a kicked-up rendition of the studio version showing Deni having fun looping keyboard and rhythm.
Ladytron looked good and sounded better. A pyramid of light and monochrome spotlights visually carried on the 80’s vibe of the evening. More importantly, Helen Marnie pleased fans and won new ones with beautiful vocals supported by Mira Aroyo on keyboard and Daniel Hunt and Rueben Wu on synthesizers. The set included standards “Play Girl” “Discotraxxx” and “Seventeen”. Ladytron did not disappoint on the crowd favorites or new tracks “Ace of Hz” from their latest album, Gravity the Seducer. The Liverpool group returned to the stage for a tidy encore beginning with another new track, “White Elephant” and wrapping perfectly with “Destroy Everything You Touch.”
Saturday’s show was the best kind, one mixing up old and new. With Ladytron playing crowd favorites and an appropriate dash of new songs, and openers that show huge potential, the event was a brilliant example of a dated style evolving as the acts presented a fresh take on the retro vibe of synthpop.