Gig Review: Little Dragon, O2 Academy

little dragon Little Dragon love Bristol – in our interview with Erik from the band, he reminisced about the “river or whatever it is going low and muddy at some times”, and Thekla as “a nice, smelly, humid and mouldy little boat with a great crowd.” Touring their 2014 album Nabuma Rubberband, this year they disembark from Bristol’s floating venue to instead play the O2 Academy, making up in numbers and low humidity what it lacks in atmosphere and sound quality. Backed by neon strip lighting, Little Dragon do well to perform a real mixture of older and newer material from their back catalogue. While latest album Nabuma Rubberband was by no means a failure, it represented a shift towards a more ambient, relaxed sound, and the handful of tracks that the band play (apart from the gutteral bassiness of ‘Klapp Klapp’) are less well-received than their older, more upbeat material. Tracks from their breakthrough album Ritual Union go down a storm – songs ‘Ritual Union’ and ‘Little Man’ get the crowd’s legs pumping. In fact, the crowd is highly receptive throughout the night, and Little Dragon clearly have a loyal following. The band are forced back on stage for an encore by mass stomping of feet, which for the O2 really is a rarity. The most visible star of the show is lead singer Yukimi Nagano, also famous for collaborating with Gorillaz, DJ Shadow and SBTRKT among others. Her quirky lyrics and lyricism play a large role in making the band’s sound rise above your standard electro-pop fare. Diminutive in stature and dressed in sparkling diamante cap, latex gloves and a dress that can only be described as resembling a bag of popcorn, she dances impishly, assuming a role of Queen of the Stage. A note of admiration, however, must go to the Viking of the keys, Håkan Wirenstrand, who adds the playful and adept tunefulness to the band’s material and makes tracks like ‘Test’  and ‘My Step’ sparkle. All in all a strong gig, and one in which Little Dragon proved the strength of their back catalogue. It is not easy to get a Wednesday night crowd jumping, but the band achieved this with room to spare. 8/10 Conal Dougan