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.

Little Dragon perform “Ritual Union”, “Crystalfilm”, “My Step”, “Precious” and “Twice” at the Button Factory in Dublin, Ireland

“Ritual Union” (I can be seen in this video. I will not say where.):

“Crystalfilm” (Thank you, Lynn!):

More: Ritual Union, Precious, My Step, and Twice.

Little Dragon thrill Dublin City’s Button Factory

Last night I watched Little Dragon defeat the bitter cold that the city of Dublin was offering our Tuesday night with a stupendous, heated two-hour set that brought thrills to cramped legs and sweat to cold brows, and, mostly importantly, a musical and community experience unlikely to be matched for some time yet. Each song – among them, the opening “When I Go Out”, “Looking Glass”, “Ritual Union”, and the encore’s “Little Man”, “Blinking Pigs” and “Twice” – stretched into another-world audioscape jam that filled a tightened sold-out room of exhilarated and ravenous fans with a shared ecstasy. “Little Man”’s ending, especially, felt like a rock crescendo with the whole front row thrashing their heads back and forth in unison to surging and diving crashes of sound. There was great elements of theatre, too, with Yukimi entering the stage in a white one piece item of clothing, and glitter mask, before unclothing to reveal something similar to this.

Excitingly, the show was Ritual Union LP heavy, with the band, accompanied by the ever brilliant Arild Werling, almost playing the record in its entirety, with the exception of “NightLight”. I’m unsure how to relate a music event like this back to a person who hasn’t yet experienced it. All adjectives prove useless, this is true. All comparisons are foolish and almost always unsavoury: how does one compare Little Dragon to anything else? Those who have experienced Little Dragon in a live environment understand the moment, the post concert rise of self and soon after the clasping post concert blues. If you haven’t caught them live, then do you and your life a favour and correct that mistake.

Here’s my attempt at compiling a set list. The order is incorrect, but the list is 95% correct, I’m sure (my mind is still in a happy haze). Set-list:

“When I Go Out”, “Looking Glass”, “My Step”, “Feather”, “Swimming”, “Ritual Union”, “Brush The Heat”, “Shuffle A Dream”, “Please Turn”, “Crystalfilm”, “Precious”, “Summertearz”

Encore:

“Little Man”, “Blinking Pigs”, “Twice”

Little Dragon’s Irish show has venue change due to growing demand

Due to popular demand, Swedish electro merchants Little Dragon have moved their upcoming Dublin show from Crawdaddy to The Button Factory. All original tickets sold for the Crawdaddy gig are valid for the Temple Bar venue, and the date remains Tuesday November 29. Tickets for The Button Factory show priced €15 are currently available from Ticketmaster and all usual outlets. Source.

Little Dragon announce European tour dates!

These dates came courtesy of their official newsletter. Sign up here.

7/23- Soundwave Festival, Petrcane, Croatia
7/18- KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic Session Broadcast
8/12- Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden
8/14- Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival, San Francisco, CA
8/15- Ritual Union Record Release Show, The Roxy, Los Angeles, CA (Sold Out)
8/16- Ritual Union Record Release Show, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY (Sold Out)
8/19- Pukkelpop, Hasselt, Belgium
9/21- Lowlands, Biddinghuizen, Holland
8/27- Nowa Muzyka festival, Warsaw, Poland
9/03- Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival, Seattle, WA
9/04- North Coast Music Festival, Chicago, IL
9/06- Henry Miller Library, Big Sur, CA,
9/08- MusicFest NW @ Hawthorne Theatre, Portland, OR
9/10- Next Door Concert, Honululu, Hawaii
9/24- Parklife Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
9/25- Parklife Perth, Perth, Australia
10/01- Parklife Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia
10/02- Parklife Sydney, Sydney, Australia
10/03- Parklife Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
10/28- Moog Fest, Asheville, North Carolina
10/31- 591, Munich, Germany
11/01- Luxor, Koln, Germany
11/02- Postbahnhof, Berlin, Germany
11/04- Eter, Wroclaw, Poland
11/05- Eskulap, Poznan, Poland
11/06- Palladium, Warsaw, Poland
11/08- Knust, Hamburg, Germany
11/09- Botanique, Brussels, Belgium
11/10- Melkweg/Max, Amsterdam, Holland
11/11- Tivoli, Utrecht, Holland
11/12- Effenaar, Eindhoven, Holland
11/14- La Maroquinerie, Paris, France
11/16- Vox Hall, Aarhus, Denmark
11/17- Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
11/18- Tivoli, Helsingborg, Sweden
11/19- Gota Kallare, Stockholm, Sweden
11/25- Rough Trade East, London, UK
11/26- O2 Academy Brixton, UK (Support for Friendly Fires)
11/27- Ruby Lounge, Manchester, UK
11/29- Crawdaddy @ The Button Factory, Dublin, Ireland
11/30- The Arches, Glasgow, UK
12/02- Thekla, Bristol, UK
12/03- Concorde 2, Brighton, UK