@ Roundhouse, London, 20 May 2010
who's seen The Chemical Brothers live knows that Ed Simons
and Tom Rowlands offer a far greater spectacle than two
blokes just mindlessly twiddling knobs or gormlessly staring
at laptops when they take to the stage. With four nights
at the Roundhouse sold out and a wealth of new material
to air from their imminent seventh album, Further, expectations
duo successfully milk this and crank up the anticipation
further with a huge whirring build-up before finally taking
to the stage. Kicking off with a drifting shoegazey track,
the immense, floor-to-ceiling video-wall behind the vast
racks of keyboards and electronics shows shots of slow motion
diving and dry-ice smoke pours down from the ceiling.
quite an opening and the momentum is maintained with another
new track, the epic, slowly evolving, peak-filled Escape
Velocity, which sees the screens full of dancing stick men
made of lights pulling some moves. The smiling crowd follow
suit, as they do for the following buoyant Balearic handraiser
- another new offering.
flow of new material continues as a woman appears on the
screen backdrop, looking around bewildered as flailing men
in bowler hats surround her. The credit crunch imagery is
backed initially with a strummed guitar sample that then
turns into one of those ever-building towers of electronic
noise that the Chems do best. They follow this with another
fresh track aimed squarely at the dancefloor; it gets the
desired response as it bangs and builds to a menacing, darkly
new single, the Star Guitar-esque Swoon, goes down like
a future anthem should before tribal drums kick in and monochrome
birds take over the screen for a harpsichord-led number
infiltrated sweetly by simple orchestral chords. This is
followed by another roaring, soaring beast of a track.
music then grinds to a halt and a looping depth charge sample
sees the duo play for time as Rowlands frantically pulls
out and plugs in a thousand leads on the mixing desk - so
much for those that criticise the Chems for playing to a
backing track, they seem to work hard for their bread! As
the depth charge builds then falls the first old classic
is unleashed in the form of Hey Boy Hey Girl which gets
arms punching through the strobes and smoke.
sounds like an acid mix of Under The Influence then forces
its way through but merges into Setting Sun before screaming,
squealing, squeaking and bleeping into previous album highlight,
Saturate. Nothing is played straight as a sample of Believe
comes in midway through, drops out then takes over.
thudding acid classic Chemical Beats gets screwed up into
something even darker than the original, the duo then leave
the stage leaving Love Is All on the screen. Scores of people
leave but as the duo didn't actually vacate the stage at
all during the set, many others hang around awaiting an
encore. It's a confusing ending, but the cries of "More!"
go unheeded, and that's actually that.
a reputation for providing a full-on, all-encompassing show,
the Brothers certainly didn't disappoint, in spite of the
slightly confused ending. The visuals have clearly been
slaved over for many an hour and the light show is a true
epileptic's nightmare, but it's mesmerising. And then, of
course, there's the music which is cranked up and twisted
to squeeze out every last drop of dancefloor drama. Tonight's
performance saw the Chemical Brothers reinforce their credentials
as one of the best mainstream dance live acts out there.
Ian Roullier, 05/2010