By Kenny McMurtrie
December 02, 2012
Not a lot seems to have changed in the 15 years since I last saw Orbital but they’ve certainly got louder. Tonight’s set was delivered at ear-ringing volume, particularly ‘Beezledub’ & ‘Lush 3’, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of it. Called back at the end of the show for two encores the Hartnoll brothers were clearly moved by the rapturous appreciation and having as good a time as the heaving mass they were leading along. Add to this mix a first class visual array and a myriad of well used mini spotlights and you come away with a gig of the highest calibre.
Coming on stage right on schedule to the intro of “The Moebius …” it was evident the crowd (not far off a sold out one) were expecting big things and those were delivered straight off. The set kicked off with a fierce urgency and, as predicted here, the featured new material from Wonky fits right in alongside that from the duo’s previous eight albums with the title track benefiting greatly from the added volume. You hardly had time to draw breath after the first note was sounded before the lighting & video sought to excite your visual faculties as much as the audio was already doing for your aural ones. Apart from a rash of differing blue circles which brought to mind a certain mobile phone company the arrays (I’ll call them that until someone advises me otherwise as they served as both screens & lights) went on to feature footage of molecular structures, American political figures & images of the planet in decline making the stage-front array’s resemblance to a stealth bomber more than possibly just a coincidence.
Elsewhere in the set The Carpenters ‘Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft’ got a makeover, there were some highly freaky cubes made up of blinking single eyes projected (made you queasy without the help of substance assistance) and all the Whovians lapped up the group’s take on the classic theme tune from the tv show. ‘The Saint’ was though noticeably absent. Witnessing a performance this good, one that was delivered with a real passion for the songs and for those that had come along to participate in the experience, there were moments when you could feel that classics such as ‘Chime’ will outlast more recent works by younger exponents and achieve the longevity enjoyed by composers of earlier eras. Thank god the Orbital hiatus is over.
Support tonight came from Nathan Fake, promoting his enjoyable Steam Days album which came out a couple of months ago. The Picture House stage is a tad large to have one bloke standing at a small table with just two electronic gadgets on it to produce sound with but as the place filled up during his 40 or so minutes the volume level did fair justice to his own work, which certainly nods once or twice towards the work of the main act. By the time he left the stage he was well appreciated and I’ve no doubt he goes down a storm in more intimate settings.