The dirty, sleazy, soulful electro-funk of Little Dragon should probably come with a health warning; such is its relentless appeal. As Dublin once again provides the location, Yukimi Nagano and band provide the noise. The wonky rhythms and electronic textures of their music is effectively an airborne drug and as the tracks come and go their moreish nature hangs over the crowd like some pulsating invisible cloud.
Deep, rumbling bass, bright, reverberating synth chops and thunderous beats are all held in place by Nagano’s vocals as the self-styled Little Dragon herself seductively stalks the audience from the stage. There is no doubt as to Nagano’s ability to sing on record, but in a live setting she and the rest of the band really come to life and tonight is a case in point. Opening with ‘Please Turn’ drummer Erik Boden is off his drum-stool and pounding life into his snare as the Håkan Wirenstrand, one half of the band’s synth playing duo, builds layers around him. This is an auspicious start to the night and no mistake. The sheer volume of their playing is remarkable but all eyes are on Nagano whose ability to generate cheers and spontaneous pelvic-gyrations from the crowd involves little more than a wave of her tambourine.
“Do you mind if we play a really old song now?” heralds ‘After the Rain’ from 2007’s Little Dragon. Its choppy tempo and oompah-style trills sitting nicely on Fredrik Wallen’s immovable bass line. ‘Killing Me’, from this year’s Nabuma Rubberband, is another of the night’s highlight as it perhaps better than anything else tonight showcases the band’s return from the poppier sound of their last album in favour of the deeper, more experimental sound they were known for. For the most part, the rest of tonight’s set is a heavy-weight and irrefutable reminder of how far the band have come in terms of developing their sound. Featuring only four tracks from their breakthough album, 2011’s Ritual Union, the rest of the set showcases their almost full-circle trajectory into full-on, soulful, bass-heavy electronic musicians par excellence.
Little Dragon photographed for State by Olga Kuzmenko.