17th April 2009
The black-clad kids were out in force as the rolling The Faint/Ladytron sideshow pulled into Atlanta, Georgia, offloading what could be unkindly dubbed an ‘electroclash revival’ as both bands came into sharp focus during the height of this abortive musical fad and were adopted into it, yet never actively subscribed to being a part of it.
In what is purportedly a shared headlining bill for both electronically arranged bands, Liverpool’s Ladytron, despite having a firm fanbase in America appear as the underdogs against Omaha, Nebraska’s The Faint with their slight home country edge. Of the two acts, Ladytron recently released their most solid album yet with Velocifero which seems to be burrowing its way into the hip consciousness via current single “Tomorrow”. The Faint, touring on the back of their self-produced, self-released album of last year, Fasciination has them in full dance-punk flight after taking several years to record a follow-up to 2004’s Wet From Birth.
As with previous tours, Ladytron present themselves as a full live band, but as a live presence theirs is a minimal one. Trapped behind a bank of synths and keyboards, Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie play captive to their machines, something that has an incredibly detrimental effect on how Ladytron are received, especially when in direct competition with on-stage intensity of The Faint. Opening with the under-utilised vocals of Mira Aroyo on the Bulgarian disco of “Black Cat”, Ladytron opted to air some of their new material first with a set largely filled with key tracks from Velocifero and Witching Hour with a few older tracks like “Seventeen” and “Discotraxx” thrown in for good measure.
A mid-set power shortage had the band briefly leave the stage, but returned with a strong finish closing with “Tomorrow” and the dancefloor cool of “Destroy Everything You Touch” sounding like a sharper, modern and more incisive version of the Human League. It’s not that the world needs another of those, but freeing Helen and Mira from behind their machines and into the spotlight could add some much needed movement into Ladytron’s static stage presence.
Having been active since 1995, The Faint were rewarded with a surprisingly enthusiastic response upon taking the stage. It is astonishing to see that new wave/industrial sound that so typified the late ’80s, early ’90s so alive and well and living in The Faint. The random appearances of glow sticks littered throughout the crowd was an amusing throwback to other times which is hard not to put The Faint in the same pigeon hole. Six albums into their career now, The Faint are still a force to be reckoned with but seem burdened with a dated sound and an audience that clamours for the old songs (of which The Faint obediently, enthusiastically deliver).
Opening with “Mirror Error” from Fasciination album, The Faint tore into their arsenal of dance-punk detonations in a tornado of sound and vision, working their way through Danse Macabre‘s “Agenda Suicide” into Wet From Birth’s “Dropkick the Punks” in a set that barely stopped to catch its breath. Vocalist Todd Fink gave the kind of frontperson display that put Ladytron to shame, barrelling across the stage, backed by a seizure inducing lightshow, with the rest of the band violently throwing themselves into the action. As a live machine, The Faint worked in overdrive and watching them in action felt like you were in the middle of a 70 minute exercise workout. A tough to beat encore of “The Geeks Were Right”, “Glass Danse” and “I Disappear” showed their retro career hadn’t quite melted yet.