Representing the poppier side of electronic music on their new album, “Trickle” (Maverick), Olive uses lambent keyboards and chattering drum machines to create breezy, evanescent layers of sound. Combined with a lyrical nip of piquant regret, on record Olive can be as refreshing as a gimlet on a hot summer day. Those qualities, however, were not in evidence in the group’s performance at Arcadia.
If anything, Olive sounds more spontaneous and live on record than they do on stage. Unlike Underworld and the Chemical Brothers, who stretch out and compress their songs in performance, often remixing the music onstage, Olive played it straight, the live renditions of the songs being nearly identical to the recorded versions.
Everything save the lead vocals is programmed and sequenced; the heavily treated guitar — when it could be heard in the flat mix — sounded like another synthesizer. Even the background vocals were pre-recorded and triggered by the two keyboardists, making for an extremely stiff performance.
Hemmed in by the loops and sequencers and looking a little uncomfortable, singer Ruth-Anne was unable to connect with either the music or audience.
She may as well have been performing with taped backing for all the support her accompanists gave her. And without her emotional center, the songs, which strike a precipitous balance between “Avalon”-era Roxy Music and Ace of Base, veered toward the saccharine side of the equation.
The atmosphere of the former Ash Grove didn’t help matters. Flanked on their side by light shows that plugged co-promoters Bossanova, Olive often seemed superfluous at their own concert.