Swedish electropop five-piece Little Dragon’s third album Ritual Union, released last year, was the record that finally took them beyond being known mainly for a multitude of collaborations and name drops by countless other artists, establishing them in their own right as purveyors of stylish and progressive dance pop. The group’s profile has steadily risen since and Edinburgh’s tight and compact Liquid Room is throbbing with excitement as the group highlight Ritual Union and some choice cuts from their previous two albums.
Clad in a sparkling all in one jumpsuit, diminutive singer Yukimi Nagano is the magnetic presence around which Little Dragon’s intensely rhythmic electro sound coalesces. Nagano’s boundless enthusiasm is nothing if not infectious as she skips along the stage, flitting from tambourine shaking to pounding her impressive set of electronic drums. Her enthusiasm is transmitted to the crowd who are perfectly in sync with the band’s kinetic groove.
Ritual Union’s title track is an early highlight that showcases Nagano’s supremely soulful voice, the pulsing, sultry Brush The Heat quickly follows and Shuffle A Dream completes a trio of vibrant dance pop from their last album.
Little Dragon on stage are a far deeper and sturdier proposition than the sometimes slight sound of their records and this is shown by the vigour with which they attack the dancier material that makes up the latter part of the set. A number of tracks are turned into elongated electro workouts as the band become immersed in the music; at one point keyboardist Hakan Wirenstrand bursts out from behind his instrument for some spontaneous dancing with Nagano. Little Dragon live can have that affect.
The best moments tonight are highly percussive and dynamic. At one point Nagano asks the crowd: “We’re going to jam out on this track if you don’t mind?” The track in question is the glorious Summerztearz, and it is extended into an incredibly powerful piece of electro pop full of cowbell beating and propulsion. They have the crowd enthralled as the music gradually builds and drops.
The stark, stuttering Precious, which closes the set, is transformed tonight, morphing from a rather understatedly subtle piece on record to a rushing, buzzing hybrid of percussion and heavy beats, all held together by Nagano’s soulful purr.
It is sometimes difficult for electronic/dance acts to construct a really captivating live show. But tonight Little Dragon showed that keyboards and percussion can be just as effective as guitars, and when you have a front woman as engaging as Yukimi Nagano you cannot fail to put on a show.