Ladytron, Stealing Sheep, Dave Haslam: O2 Ritz, Manchester



Ladytron played their biggest Manchester show to date on an inhospitable Saturday, Getintothis’ Alastair Thomson braved the elements.

Leap year days are supposedly romantic. Not tonight.

The weather has other ideas, despite the first shoots of spring.

The heavy rain provokes furrowed brows as audience members are patted down by security as they enter Manchester’s O2 Ritz.

Ladytron have a better proposal. Their first show in the city in ten years.

Hacienda stalwart Dave Haslam provides warmth to the thoroughly Gen X crowd with familiar classics of that era.

Main support is Getintothis band of 2019, Stealing Sheep. Momentum is behind the Liverpool electro-pop three piece.

They choreograph onto stage in what appear to be matching neon pink baggy boiler suits before launching into an energetic set which is returned by the bop of the venues famous sprung dancefloor.

Hands and crutches are soon aloft and the band are enjoying their moment. An enthusiastic ‘YEAH!’ From the stage feels genuine and unprompted.

On final track Jokin’ Me, the band gather at stage front to inflate their outfits into sumo suits, allow the audience into a selfie with them, and leave having brought the joy to a cold, wet night.

Ladytron are promoting their eponymous sixth album, their first since 2011’s Gravity the Seducer, and their first crowdfunded release. The length between albums being due to side projects, side careers, and all four members living in different countries.

The band were quick to dismiss the electro-clash label of the 2000’s. Their sound has matured with their loyal following.

In 2005, their stage attire was matching black uniforms. Tonight, lead singer Helen Marnie enters the stage in billowing white silks.

Ladytron’s Daniel Hunt talks long distance working, Brazilian karaoke and Manchester gig

Composers Daniel Hunt and Ruben Wu relegate themselves to the rear of the stage, providing production muscle, while Marnie and fellow vocalist / synth player Mira Aroyo are front and centre.

This is Ladytron’s largest show to date in Manchester, previously playing Academy-size venues. The upgrade benefits band and audience alike.

There has been delay and disappointment along the way, with the collapse of PledgeMusic delaying the album release, and rescheduling tonight’s show from last October. We were concerned that enthusiasm to hear the new material may have waned.

After a perfunctory ‘Good Evening’ from Aroyo, the show begins with Black Cat from 2008 best-selling album Velocifero. Marnie taking over vocal duties with new track The Island, before finding a familiar groove with electro-stomp Ghosts.

The twin screens behind the band silhouette them for much of the gig. A focal point of vector graphics and a palette of TV colour bars when activity on stage ebbs, and the audience participation is lacking before midway through, when the obligatory Coronavirus gag is let loose.

The set list allows the new songs room to breathe. Animals, Far From Home and You’ve Changed sound better live, and stand tall with favourites Runaway, International Dateline, and Seventeen.

Despite this pre-encore closer, no tracks for from early albums 604 and Light + Magic for the season ticket holders.

They close with Destroy Everything You Touch from the acclaimed Witching Hour album.

Helen Marnie enthuses at the applause that bids them farewell while the rest of the band slink offstage.

Ladytron provided a set list as reliable as the Uber Skodas that will take most of the audience home.

Images by Getintothis’ Rachel Bywater