Saturday, June 04, 2005

Big hit, album track, album track, bigger hit, biggest hit

Any bassline which makes your nostrils vibrate is OK by me. The Chemical Brothers used it repeatedly during their Brixton Academy set last Friday which made for an ace night out.

Due to the prevalence with which the music press use the term, it appears potentially illegal to review the Chems without saying things about their “Blockrockin’ Beats”. There’s more to them than Big Beat survivalists. Such a varied back catalogue sweeps from all the tracks with Beats in the title (Block Rockin’, Chemical, Chico) to their housier anthems; Out of Control, Hey Boy, Hey Girl, Star Guitar. Then there’s their epic Private Psychedelic Reels (one per album) and their serious collaborations (with the likes of Flaming Lips, Beth Orton, Bloc Party et al). On top of which they weave the new album.

The performance was OK; Ed coaxes complex textures from his bank of modules whilst Tom is detailed with volume controls and waving. Their timing was out throughout, running through track after track at a frenetic pace. With six albums to play from, it was like they didn’t want to miss anything out. Maybe they need to be a little braver and drop something, even the big hits.

All of which means the whole thing was a little stuck somewhere between regular gig and full-on rave. Frequently the night peaked, racing away at a pulsating house pace, before a retro break from Exit Planet Dust appeared. Huge roars. Then the beats were slowed to the requisite speed and the energy waned. It’s a shame, with better programming they could have built and built the night to frenzy.

None of which should take away from what was a good night out. Sara came with me; a veteran of Busted, Britney and Take That concerts. She seemed to enjoy the culture shock; the sticky Academy floors, the lack of foam fingers in the merchandise stand, the offers of drugs (easy to spot, black guys with no sense of rhythm).

And we parked two minutes from the venue, which was the best bit of all.


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