Chemical Brothers @
Brixton Academy, London, 18 March 2005
Many of the big guns of dance music who first made repetitive
beats appeal to indie kids a decade ago are now either misfiring
or missing, presumed dead. Orbital have split, Leftfield
disappeared following a bout of creativity-sapping perfectionism
of Brian Wilson proportions, Underworld lost the talents
of Darren Emerson while The Prodigy remain unfairly unforgiven
for their brief lapse into self-parody.
Chemical Brothers, on the other hand, are resurgent, having
just enjoyed their fourth consecutive number one album with
'Push The Button', answering their critics and denying dance
music's detractors at the same time.
they hit the ground sprinting with the pure adrenalin shot
of 'Hey Girl, Hey Boy' and once they have lifted the crowd
they refuse to put them down, running through a pure acid
house mix of 'Get Yourself High' headlong into the 'Milkshake'-like
bass and barmy sci-fi battle noises of 'The Big Jump'. Sensory
overload is complete as yellow lasers spear through the
air and visuals flicker manically across the giant screens,
from robots to butterflies to demonic faces, but this is
merely the warm-up.
then teases its way to the surface before those huge Bollywood
strings inspire bedlam to be followed by the braying donkey
screech of 'Block Rockin' Beats' and the dirty funk of 'Leave
Home'. Every note of each tune seems to have been tweaked,
cranked up and made louder by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons
purely to make scalps tingle and get bodies moving. This
happens with ease, with the aptly-titled 'Hold Tight
London' pumped up and the vocals boiled down to a
hypnotic, tribal chant while 'Marvo Ging' becomes
a thigh-slapping electro hoe-down.
offerings 'Come Inside', with its explosive
blast of funk amid a sea of thumping beats, and the bass
heavy rumpus of 'Believe' nestle comfortably
alongside older material like 'Under The Influence'
and 'Song To The Siren' with each track flowing,
or rather squealing, into the next. This is one long bleeping,
banging knees-up, full of party-starting classics and assaults
of energy soaked fresh material, all brought to a traditional,
triumphant end by the epic 'Private Psychedelic Reel'.
the words "It's All Over" mutate into
"Love" on the screens, the duo hold each other's
arms aloft in recognition that this was all just a little
bit special. The only criticism being that tonight's
performance was perhaps a little too exhaustingly intense,
like being on an endless fairground ride, the constant music-induced
goosebumps becoming almost uncomfortable after a while.
But if dance music is dead someone forgot to tell Tom and
Ed - this is the only Chemical enhancement you need to experience
what can make it so exciting and exhilarating.
'Brothers have got it all worked out.
- Ian Roullier, 03/2005