Monday, June 28, 2004

Les deux oeuf

From Tribal Gathering to Homelands to Glastonbury to the Albert Hall to Somerset House to Brixton Academy. I’ve pretty much nailed every one of Orbital’s spiritual homes. Friday was their last headline show before splitting up, which, given they’re brothers, seems a little odd.

Then again Orbital aren’t just two brothers, they’re a big U-shaped machine made up of keyboards, sequencers, erm, other machines that go bing plus two humans in light specs. As if to prove it, Friday’s crowd went apoplectic when the podium, on which the equipment is placed, was simply rolled to the front of the stage. The Hartnolls are just part of that entity. I’m not suggesting their Roland 303 has decided to go solo, but the human/machine relationship is pretty symbiotic.

At Tribal Gathering they played in a tent which had a stage at each end. When they came on, the crowd cheered and started dancing, it wasn’t until the end of the first tune that people realised they were facing the wrong end and were actually dancing to the lighting technicians (who were also wearing light specs) preparing for the next act (and not very well, Prodigy went on, after two songs someone invaded the stage, tripped over a cable and ended the show on the spot).

It’s a funny crowd, at the Albert Hall there was a bloke in front of us with no top on, punching the air, wearing a crash helmet, backwards. Next to him was the archetypal big fat computer geek sitting expressionless with a notepad writing down the track listing. It’s a varied horde, and one that’s getting older and podgier every year.

Perversely there’s so little fat in the Orbital live repertoire that the set was becoming fairly predictable. Perhaps they’re quitting for fear of becoming the Rolling Stones or Grateful Dead of Acid House. They only played two tracks from the new album, the Halcyon ‘trick’ (where Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi morphs and twists around the tune as it reaches its peak) was enhanced with a Darkness sample. The rest was exactly what we expect; Lush, Belfast, Impact, The Box, Satan building to their cover of the Dr Who theme (geeks in the house?) and finally Chime, a tune I’ve never really loved but was simply different class.

It was simply the best gig I’ve ever been to; Rage Against the Machine at Reading Festival, Depeche Mode at Crystal Palace, Radiohead at South Parks, Fatboy Slim at Brixton, The End and Brighton Beach, I’ve seen some good stuff, but this topped them all. The Plump DJs followed, for whom we intended to stay, but we were spent emotionally and had to leave them to it.

They say that the only thing great bands should regret is that they never saw themselves live. In a world of Amy Whinehouse, Nora Jones, Jamie bloody Cullum (watched his awful ‘corporate enfant terrible’ performance Glastonbury on Saturday and felt ill) the departure of Orbital leaves the world a darker place.

By the way, read this and this, and you'd have thought I'd just copied my post from these alone, but I was there, promise.


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