The Chemical Brothers have long been titans of the electronic music scene, and their live shows are nothing short of legendary. Tonight is their first show in the UK, and following onto an international tour in support of “For That Beautiful Thing”.
Comprising Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, the dynamic pair emerged onto the music scene in the early 1990s and quickly established themselves as pioneers in bringing electronic and dance music into mainstream popular culture.
Characterised by powerful beats, intricate samples, and a lean towards classic pop music, The Chemical Brothers are always pushing the boundaries of the electronic genre and making techno/house more accessible to a wider audience.
Tonight’s set starts with “Go” from 2015 and the visuals immediately take the show beyond any club gig. The light show has long been an integral part of their show – not just complimenting the live production of their music, but standing as an artistic performance in itself. Giant LED screens, lasers, immersive animations, dry ice, huge balloons and more are built into tonight’s two hour set.
Without any live vocals from regular collaborators such as Q-Tip, songs are performed on their musical credits alone, mixed live by Rowlands and Simons. Most tracks evolve into a different shape to what might be recognised from the radio singles, but this puts to rest any cliches about electronic musicians simply pressing play on their successful back catalogue.
“MAH” is a set highlight where the visuals feature an arthouse style film of demonic characters. The music, giant LED screen and spotlights come together to give one the best moments of the show when a giant figure appears to lurch over the front row and shoot lasers into the baying crowd.
Other highlights such as “Escape Velocity” and “Goodbye” would have lifted the roof off a smaller gig or a night in the Hacienda, tonight combined with the stunning visuals and lightshow in Glasgow’s OVO Hydro, these tracks take the audience astronomical.
There are the expectedly crowd-pleasing “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” and “Galvanize” which demonstrate the kind of electro/pop crossover which made The Chemical Brothers stand out from the crowd in the 90s and early 00s. Neither song is played with any presumption, and the duo give due energy towards landing the tracks perfectly on an enthralled crowd.
The main set finishes with elements of house, techno, and breakbeat on “Block Rockin’ Beats”, then the audience are transported back to a traditional concert with appropriately climatic energy from both performers. It is easy to forget that tonight’s concert was a music gig, it could have easily been considered an avant garde film premier, or a huge virtual reality experiment, all held together by an impeccable soundtrack.
Photo Copyright © Harry Atkinson