Gig Review: Little Dragon @ o2 Academy Bristol
by Polly Hember
Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, Little Dragon were formed in 1996 and are an electronic outfit full of ambient vocals, rhythmic percussion, floating keys and deep bass. With five studio albums to their name, their recorded music is dream-like, shapeshifting, sinuous and yet still fiery. However, their electrifying, immersive live performance brings a new dimension to their sound, with spectacular stage presence and an incredible bass that vibrates through the soles of your shoes, your kneecaps, and right through your heart. It was a spectacle of a show that showcased the creative ingenuity and mysticism that lies coiled and ready to pounce at the centre of Little Dragon.
Bristol’s O2 academy was hazy with thick smoke, illuminated with dreamy blue lights that refracted by a backdrop of hanging mirrors; the stage looked like it had been taken from a science-fiction film set.
Emerging through the mist to cheers and clapping, the four-piece electronica ensemble looked like extra-terrestrials walking out onto the stage. Singer Yukimi Nagano was dressed in a florescent, glow-in-the-dark dress, her hands adorned in bejewelled gloves, glittering sleeves, and shrouded in a veil of gauze. She was an alien ghost-bride that captivated the audience immediately and entirely.
Opening with ‘A New’ from their 2009 album Machine Dreams, Nagano’s melodic, ethereal vocals filled the venue, entrancing the audience. Masterful percussion from Eric Bodin pumped insurmountable and seemingly endless amounts of energy and rhythm into each song. The set was filled with phenomenal drum solos, each acting as a brilliant, cacophonous climax and providing spaces in the songs for Nagano’s interpretive dance movements. ‘Push’ saw Nagano and Bodin play the drums together to fuel a brilliantly complex and rhythmic drum solo which was one of the highlights of the night.
Håkan Wirenstrand on keys provided unique and effervescent dynamism to the musical soundscape, fusing with Fredrik Källgren Wallin’s powerful, all-encompassing bass perfectly. The sounds produced by the individual artists seemed to collide together and merge in a misty explosion, so much so that each element seemed entwined with every aspect of the performance, creating a cohesive and unique sound that flowed through the band in wondrous unison .
From the deep, dark, driving bass of ‘Klapp Klapp’, to the softer, introspective ‘Feather’, and the feel-good pop gestures in ‘Pretty Girls’, Little Dragon succeeds in providing a lively and engaging set. The music was incredible, as was the entire creative performance. Ethereal lighting, costume changes, and Nagano’s enthralling stage-presence that saw her sing, dance and creatively engage in every part of the music made for a spectacular show that entranced and enthralled the crowd. This energetic electronica illuminates the fresh, diverse and beautifully original imagination these dragons possess.
Check out their website for more tour dates to see Little Dragon live.
'High' by Little Dragon