KOKO, London, 23 September 2010
Having attracted the attentions of Damon Albarn and his
fellow Gorillaz with their two albums, tonight sees Gothenburg
four-piece Little Dragon headline their largest UK gig to
date. First up however is mystery masked support act SBTRKT,
who plays a mix of grinding electronics, kicks and breaks
lightened by fleeting melodies.
man behind the tribal mask, Aaron Jerome, hammers away on
electronic drums as a vocalist accompanies the music. Whether
it's down to the mixing levels or the performance though,
the music and vocals don't seem to tally. For instance,
enough is audible of what sounds like an uplifting vocal
banger to make it worth checking out in its original format
(and SBTRKT's remixes for Tinie Tempah,
Basement Jaxx and M.I.A
testify he does have some kind of musical pedigree) but
tonight's performance just simply doesn't sound good.
Dragon then take to the stage and kick off with the very
track SBTRKT remixed for them, Never Never. They follow
this with the dubby Test, taken from their self-titled debut,
as singer Yukimi Nagano accompanies it by banging on what
look like hanging glass bowls. But sadly the sound suffers
once again and the mix of music and vocals don't seem to
be fully in sync. Nagano's voice manages to be simultaneously
innocent and soulful but it is often so drowned in reverb
it sounds like the Swedish four-piece is performing in the
the problem seems to subside as the set progresses, either
that or Little Dragon somehow overcome it through the sheer
strength of their music. Looking Glass brings together electronica,
rock and pop but the end result never sounds contrived.
As with the majority of their tracks, it's odd yet oddly
accessible. Little Dragon don't so much as duck pigeonholes
as completely disregard them.
synth led lullaby sees Yukimi's vocals gracefully dance
and glide over the top while a huge cheer goes up for heartfelt
ballad Blinking Pigs, which once again puts her voice to
beautiful use. The singer even grabs a drum stick and joins
in with the drummer as the soaring synths kick in for a
performance that is little short of brilliant.
mellow '80s stylings of Feather, with handclaps galore and
a fantastic extended and improvised ending, forms another
highlight before the piano-led Twice provides yet another
set of goosebumps to bring the show to an end.
energy, movement and melody of the music and Nagano's vocals
- and the way she jigs, hops and smiles her way around the
stage, clearly loving every moment - make it easy to see
why Albarn snapped up Little Dragon to collaborate on the
recent Plastic Beach album. What tonight's performance may
have lacked in sound quality was more than offset by the
music and the band's playful willingness to skip from genre
to genre while rarely putting a foot wrong. On this evidence,
Little Dragon's rising profile seems fully deserved.
Ian Roullier, 09/2010