The Guardian: “Little Dragon: a band on the verge of greatness”

For most of Little Dragon’s performance – a low-key comeback, presaging a highly anticipated new album – they remain more or less invisible. Backlit in blue, gauzed in dry ice, the Swedish foursome are occasionally illuminated from the side. Lanky bassist Fred Wallin’s shadow projects up the brick walls of this former warehouse. You can make out bushy-bearded, ponytailed keyboard magus Håkan Wirenstrand in silhouette. Singer Yukimi Nagano shirks the usual strutting, fretting and spotlighting that goes with being a frontwoman, her sinuous vocals just one of the elements – acrylic digitals, live percussion, deep bass – swirling around. A dancer in a catsuit and large shades turns up at the back, adding her lively shapes to Nagano’s supplicating arm gestures …

… There is an element of frustration to Little Dragon’s tasteful, non-U groove-pop, however. They are very near some kind of greatness; all it would take is some minor concession to structure and focus. A case in point is one of tonight’s highlights: the oscillation unleashed near the end of Klapp Klapp, Little Dragon’s sort-of new single. It’s typical Dragon: a louche bassline leads into a busy on-beat. There are some heavenly noises. It’s hard to make out what Nagano is singing, adding to a sense of impenetrable prettiness. But why does the hook come at the end? You’d want to bang your head against the Village Underground’s exposed brickwork, if it weren’t all so lovely.

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Time Out Chicago review Little Dragon at Lollapalooza

Dressed all in yellow with gold slippers to rival Dorothy’s ruby ones, Little Dragon’s Yukimi Nagano slid into place in front of the lead mic on Perry’s stage for “Looking Glass” and, joined by her band of brothers from Sweden, offered the EDM-dominated area its biggest breath of musical fresh air all weekend.

The title track from the quirky pop band’s latest record, Ritual Union, came next, to bombastic cheers. Clearly some in the crowd were ready for a break in the electro monotony that has claimed 90 percent of this stage over the past two days. Beach balls fashioned like globes, blow-up whales, dinosaurs, birthday cakes and, of course, dragons bobbed overhead as Nagano, a force of a frontwoman, acted as spiritual leader—a vocal shaman conjuring bubbly synth pop, extended house jam sessions and all-around sunny grooves.

Standing, pounding, bouncing and bobbing to their eclectic sound, the members—save the drummer, who’s glued to a dubwise drum set—seem to all have a little skip dance that they’ve adopted as the dominant footwork. As a cow bell and drum solo morphed into an extend house jam session on “Precious,” the stage lit up with this slinky little move. At the end of the day, Little Dragon might be a little heady for many. The Ray-Ban-clad masses came to bathe in sound waves of neon beats, after all, but this band knows how to own the stage nonetheless, winning over fans one shimmering pop-dance beat at a time. Source.

Little Dragon prove they are less puff and more fire

Edinburgh’s Liquid Room is the busiest I have ever seen it. From my position on the balcony, looking down upon the heaving mass of tangled limbs, I get a fairly concrete idea of why some bands develop such God complexes.

Thankfully Little Dragon, the Swedish electro-pop four piece, hold no such complex. Perhaps because of the muted reception to their third studio album Ritual Union, or perhaps because despite being fairly commercially successful, the band haven’t quite ‘made it’ yet, Yukimi Nagano and her boys shimmy on stage and praise the crowd for turning out to see them. Little Dragon capsize the omniscient musician mould and illustrate how in this oh-so-fickle business, the power really does lie with the punters.

Through the Looking Glass is a fairly solid place on which to build, but I have to peer very closely at Nagano to see if she is actually singing. So powerful and pulsing is her voice, that there is no dissimilarity to be found from her studio sound to her performance this evening. Musicians are often criticised for the contradistinction between their live and recorded outputs, but Nagano simply sounds superb. The sonorous notes of her voice explode into the rafters like a firework, and continue to float onto the heads of the devotees long after she has moved on to another resonating note.

High praise indeed from this reviewer: seeing Little Dragon live seems to renew my interest in them. They are not a middling electro pop quartet as first thought, but an edgy, slick, dance act complete with ready-made keneticism and pulsing bass. Add to this mix one heck of a front-woman and three guys in matching white tees – repping their lanky swag like stick men on a mission – and the formula seems pretty much perfect. Source.

Le Baron present Little Dragon

If you don’t love Swedish electro-pop band Little Dragon, you are not human — and the that line snaked for about three blocks outside of Le Baron yesterday at 7 p.m. (an early start for a nightclub known for playing host to a bevy of partying Parisians) proves that is the case. For those lucky enough to make it in through the tight door, and then again through the extremely tight crowd packed like sardines on the middle floor of the club, Little Dragon played a hell of a show. “Ritual Union,” check. “Please Turn,” check. “Shuffle A Dream,” check. They even played a surprise cover of the 1984 pop hit “Here Comes The Rain Again” by the British duo Eurythmics. Needless to say, it was a magical evening. Source.

Review: Little Dragon at the Liquid Rooms by Is This Music

Little Dragon sure do know how to get a capacity gig moving. From the balcony to the bar to the faithful fanatics at the front, feet were shuffling and the crowd were grooving along to the electro pop sounds blasting from this hotly-tipped Swedish outfit.

I came to have a nosey at what all the noise was about as currently they appear to have some amount of hype about them. After being together for ten years, this is only their third album. I was aware they had been involved with Gorillaz, collaborating with TV on the Radio, Raphael Saadiq and are favoured by the P Diddy. Not a bad CV already. I really loved the melodic slow R&B number they did with DJ Shadow, ‘Scale It Back’, last year, so to see them at the Liquid Rooms was an opportunity not to be missed.

Rhythmic, metromic sounds suited this venue and its audience very well with Yukimi Nagano’s serene light voice being heard perfectly over the moody synths and snare hits. Like a magical pixie she was never far from a cowbell and is a lady who enjoys a fair amount of percussion. She is one cool kid. She had the kind of outfit on that if you tried to replicate it you would look like you had run blind backwards through H&M. However unlike us mere mortals Nagano looks amazing and sounds it too.

Her voice is smoky, distinctive but powerful a beautiful accompaniment to the very tight drums, electropop beats and loops. The tunes follow into each other many without introduction, but from the off the crowd are getting into their dancing shoes. The band, apart from the red beared keyboardist, all came out to rave away centre stage too. If the crowd has half as good a time as the band they would have gone home delighted with themselves.

They covered their recent album Ritual Union and gave a very good account of the 14 songs in their set with extended versions of many. ‘Little Man’ and ‘Ritual Union’ were stand-out songs for me. At five songs in we were asked to film ‘Shuffle the Dream’ and upload this to their website to contribute to their next video. The crowd looked like they were sponsored by Apple.

Little Dragon’s energy on stage makes for a rave /clubbing- like experience and I had to check it was Tuesday night rather than a Friday.
The funkier Princesque Precious ended the set and their obligatory encore of ‘Fright Night’, ‘Little Man’ and ‘Twice’ were all lapped up by the clubby cool cats surrounding me. Nagano said she had a Spinal Tap moment as she had said it was good to be back and then realised she announced it was their first time in Edinburgh. She was forgiven.

You can fall into their music, have a listen and then see them live. To quote my faithful gig going buddy VM: “I went liking them and have left loving them”. Yep, Little Dragon give you no choice but to dance. Catch them where you can… hopefully at some festivals later in the summer. Source.

Review: Little Dragon live at the O2 Academy by Clash Music

Little Dragon are at an odd place right now. The success of ‘Ritual Union’ (the song), and Yukimi Nagano’s attention-grabbing – and brilliant – collaborations with Gorillaz and SBTRKT have earned them popularity, and a large crowd. But ‘Ritual Union’ (the album) still feels like a bit of a let-down; a sporadically pleasing, but undernourished follow up to 2008’s excellent ‘Machine Dreams’.

Spooky support comes in the form of Holy Other. He’s a mysterious one, Mr Other. You can tell that because a) no one outside of his inner circle (and, presumably, his mum) knows his real name, b) he’s signed to Tri-Angle – purveyor of all things witch housey, and c) he’s wearing a shroud over his head. Yes, a shroud. Unfortunately, given that his performance is basically him manipulating a sampler (in a shroud), it’s not the most visually exciting of performances. Doesn’t matter, it sounds pretty ace, all densely throbbing bass and half-formed female vocals. One track sounds like a house tune, slaughtered at the altar of Genesis P-Orridge. But, it’s so not suited to a half-empty Academy dance floor. This is music for smaller, more intimate, and preferably subterranean venues.

Little Dragon arrive shortly after, Yukimi dressed in what appears to be a pair of gold spandex tights and a PVC kimono. “It’s great to be back!” she says. What, in the Bristol Academy? Really? Well, OK…

They certainly sound like they mean it. ‘Looking Glass’ is a gentle way into the set. It’s quickly followed by ‘Ritual Union’ – the song you imagine a lot of the audience is here for. Little Dragon are a brave band playing their big hit so early in a set, but it works. The already packed floor is moving.

It’s not until ‘Brush The Heat’, though, that the tone of the show is set. A reasonably sedate, slightly forgettable song on CD is transformed here into an extended polyrhythmic jam. It’s a tactic that the band returns to four or five times during the night, with drummer Erik Bodin getting a solid workout. And it sounds fantastic. Music that previously felt polished, but sometimes a little cool and distant, is now fierce and alive. Tonight Little Dragon aren’t a cute indie-electro group – they’re an impressively tight dance act. ‘My Step’, already one of the band’s best tracks, sounds phenomenal and funky.

When they change pace, then, with ‘Test’ and ‘Crystalfilm’, it feels jarring. They’re wallpaper songs, too discreet and nice to stand out on such a raucous evening. But hey! There’s a man in the crowd here who looks eerily like Grant Morrison. A gorgeous, ethereal ‘Feather’ gets everyone moving again. Kudos to the wonderfully into it guy throwing extravagant Christian rock moves.

The night ends with ‘Twice’, the first song from the first album. Yukimi murmurs quietly over a gently ebbing piano loop. It’s atmospheric, but not sombre or overbearing. An appropriate end to a night that left this reviewer clear that while ‘Ritual Union’ may have left him cold, live Little Dragon are just fucking great. Source.

Gigwise review Little Dragon’s London show

Swedish electronic kids Little Dragon have been around for nearly 16 years, but their profile has only exploded recently with the release of their third studio album ‘Ritual Union’. Their sound skilfully combines the dreamy soulful voice of lead singer Yukimi Nagano punctuated by the futuristic trance-like rhythms of the rest of the band.

‘Ritual Union’ the title song from their latest album was greeted enthusiastically as Yukimi, dressed in bright yellow tights, white nightshirt and a transparent sun visor, jumped around the smoky strobe-lit stage.

An eerie and low-tempo Brush The Heat was well received, building up with infectious cowbells and several bandmembers drumming – Yukimi took to her electronic drum setup, which resembled a giant kids toy with oversized, primary coloured squares.

Sticking predominantly to tracks from ‘Ritual Union’, the band followed up with ‘Shuffle A Dream’ and a haunting ‘Crystalfilm’, all the time a hyperactive Yukimi roamed around the stage with her teardrop-shaped tambourine.

As the heavy rumbling bass kicked into ‘Preciou’s, a fierce red light flooded the stage, giving the track a distinctively dark edge. The song morphed into a lengthy improvisation that stretched on almost symphonically, and Yukimi’s soaring vocals crescendoed to a towering finale, which was the perfect song to end their set.

After that performance it’s easy to see why they are steadily gaining a reputation as an impressive live act, and for the encore the band again delivered with a riotous version of Little Man and an equally energetic Nightlight, finishing up the night with their standout hit Twice from their eponymous Little Dragon debut album. The song really showcased Nagano’s soulful and robust vocals, and it sounded even more sentimental with an unexpected piano interlude.

If you’re going to Lovebox, Benicassim or Bestival this summer, make sure you check out Little Dragon, you will definitely not be disappointed. Source.

Little Dragon caught live at the Button Factory by Ragged Words

Just over a year ago, Little Dragon performed at Dublin’s Crawdaddy to an audience of not much more than a dozen punters. This evening, by contrast, having initially been booked to play that same small venue once again, the Swedes find themselves in a Button Factory that’s as packed as your reviewer can ever remember seeing it. The band will presumably be sending a grateful Christmas card or two Damon Albarn’s way – since their appearance on the last Gorillaz album (their two co-written contributions ranking among Plastic Beach’s highlights) their profile has soared to occasionally silly levels.

But it hasn’t simply been a case of hitching a ride on the Blur man’s coattails: previous albums Little Dragon (2007) and Machine Dreams (’09) – along with a history of wisely-chosen collaborations (frontwoman Yukimi Nagano, in particular, has shared studio time with José González and SBTRKT, among others, in recent times) – haven’t done them any harm at all in the popularity stakes; nor, judging by that NME Cool List mention as well as the number of lovesick, Movember-‘tachioed indie boys in tonight’s crowd, have Nagano’s striking Scandinasian looks and playful eccentricity.

Ritual Union, the Gothenburg natives’ third LP from earlier this year, however, represents an undeniable turning-point for the band – the record that’s finally brought them close to the precipice marked mainstream popularity. A continuation of LD’s shift away from the eclectic and often jazzy arrangements seen on that self-titled debut towards a more cohesive and (dare we say it) accessible sound, the album utilises rhythm as its central force around which the band weave their quirky synthesis of soul, R&B, pop and jazz – to frequently stunning effect.

Unsurprisingly, the bulk of this evening’s set is drawn from that breakthrough long-player, and the band’s treatment of their material bears all the hallmarks of many years’ experience. Much like Caribou, this is a band who’ve spent the last half a decade refining the tricky art of crafting layered headphones music that also caters for the needs of adrenalised festival crowds. While on record, therefore, much of Ritual Union possesses a sparse, dreamy feel that may require several listens to get to grips with, its live incarnation sees the songs’ rhythmic elements being foregrounded to the point that several of tonight’s cuts feel like extended disco edits of the original album versions.

Each track, from the LP’s eponymous lead single to other highlights like ‘Brush The Heat’ and ‘Shuffle A Dream’, tonight rides a consistently rock-solid metronomic groove, with each of the five band members – including recently-returned touring keyboardist Arild Werling – deftly adding layers of beats and textures, both digital and analogue, to the mix. And speaking of keyboards, the extravagantly-bearded Håkan Wirenstrand stands impassively over his bank of synths like a missing (Viking) member of Kraftwerk, while Nagano confidently claims centre stage, often taking advantage of the instrumental breaks to bash a drum pad or cowbell. Again, the constant equation seems to be that more rhythm equals more good times, and it’s one that proves hard to refute as the gig wears on.

A dramatic finale sees the band segue from the heady, polyrhythmic climax of Machine Dreams cut ‘Blinking Pigs’ into ‘Twice’, the gorgeously soulful and otherworldy opener from their self-titled debut. It’s an ending that also serves as a reminder – as if one were needed after a show this good – of the depth of talent at this band’s disposal. The only real surprise is how long it’s taken the record-buying public to discover Little Dragon’s roar. Source. Photographs.

The papers share their views of Little Dragon’s Shepherds Bush Empire escapades

“A bouncy but emotionally unengaging show from the upbeat Swedes,” wrote the Arts Desk in a rather flimsily researched effort, but all the while honest, with the reviewer admitting to being one of just a few left underwhelmed. The Independent, on the other hand, concluded that, “It all makes for a very enjoyable gig experience, reaching an apex on ‘Little Man’. With a fast-running rhythm, a wriggly melody, and Nagano’s crisp delivery, anyone whose hips aren’t at least twitching should probably be checked for vital signs. Fiery stuff. And the London Evening Standard‘s Rick Pearson seemed somewhat moved by the whole thing: “When the five-piece delved deeper into their back catalogue, attention shifted from the stage to some of the unique dancing being offered by some of the trendier-than-though clientele. Yet it was a thoroughly undanceable encore of Twice that stole the show. The sparse, haunting piano-ballad proved that there’s substance here to match the undoubted style: a perfect end to a thrilling night in the Dragon’s den.”