The Chemical Brothers

•• The Chemical Brothers @ Brixton Academy, London, 18 March 2005
•• Published: SoundsXP, March 2005
•• Original article:

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.

The 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.

Tonight 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.

'Galvanise' 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.

New 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'.

As 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.

The 'Brothers have got it all worked out.

- Ian Roullier, 03/2005
Copyright © Ian Roullier 2004-2014