Originally published in Inpress (The Music).
On support duty tonight is Australian songstress George Maple – a recent Future Classic addition and manifestation of the current, dark R&B wave popularised by artists such as FKA Twigs and BANKS. Maple is incredibly sensual; draped in black with arms outstretched she dances hypnotically to the ominous electronica orchestrated by her zealous drummer and keyboardist.
Opening with Please Turn, a personal favourite, Little Dragon have their audience immediately – the congested crowd singing along with frontwoman Yukimi Nagano. Throughout the set, Nagano often turns the mic towards her audience, a clichéd action that usually becomes cringe-worthy when the crowd either doesn’t know the lyrics or doesn’t feel compelled to sing along. Surprisingly, this evening’s crowd stays afloat, their zealous vocals loud enough to be heard above the instrumentals.
Little Dragon breathe fire, puffing their way through a 90-minute set. Nagano is as perpetually mobile and vivacious as an Eveready battery. She sports her own instrument, a tambourine, which she uses in a number of theatrical ways to punctuate the beat: tennis racquet, mallet, etc. Dressed in a fabulous orange ensemble, Nagano dances robotically in her idiosyncratic fashion that is harmonious with the industrial synthesisers and mechanical percussion. The band perform a fair share of oldies and Nabuma Rubberband favourites, sounding tight and lush, particularly energised on bombastic numbers such as Klapp Klapp and Shuffle A Dream. Eagerly climbing over one another’s instruments, the players switch effortlessly between tools – the keyboardist’s swift transition to bass in between tracks indicating the addition of a bass guitarist would be futile. Nagano is completely absorbed in the performance, punctuating slower numbers with a kind of celestial disposition – swaying with palms outstretched while her eyes lock on the roof above the stage. The chorus hits and she turns back into a leadless puppy, reconnected with her audience again.
The crowd go mad for Ritual Union, impressing Nagano with their ardent harmonies. After thanking their audience, Little Dragon tease with a quick hiatus before jumping back on stage to perform Blinking Pigs and Twice, the latter a beautiful ballad that concludes with a long instrumental coda. Promising to be back soon, Little Dragon bid adieu to a satisfied crowd.