Orbital at Eventim Apollo
The seminal electronic act return with their trippy and heady mix of dance, techno and breakbeat, with a night of classic hits and new material.
Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll get things started slightly earlier than scheduled, as the venue is known for its strict curfew. With no time to waste, Smiley, taken from the 30 Something record, is an instant intimation of what’s to come, a spectacular track filled with aural and visual highlights. Kaleidoscopic arrays of album artwork and cityscape outlines, with the distinct ubiquitous rave symbol in between, set the tone of the show. Following up with Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song) from latest LP, Optical Delusion, the pair evidently enjoy performing, with their signature lights on headsets and Phil bopping away barefoot. Utilising the famous nursery rhyme, recorded vocals provided by The Mediæval Bæbes add an eerie and hauntingly beautiful quality.
In keeping with rave culture, Dirty Rat lives up to its name. An honourable mention should go to lighting designer extraordinaire, Jonny Gaskell, who completely understood the brief. Beams of colour shoot across, horizontally, diagonally and every other way, matching Orbital’s optical illusion screen and sound. The first single released from their tenth album, Dirty Rat features vocals from Sleaford Mods, making it even grittier. Their video for classic track Satan contains some of the most powerful political figures spanning history, interspersed with clips of fires blazing, police brutality, the Ku Klux Klan and weapons of mass destruction. Compiled in 1996, the live version captures the duo’s ethos, questioning the status quo. Another track from their new album, Requiem for the Pre-Apocalypse is a drum ‘n’ bass hark back to the early days of rave, where Orbital paved the way. Their sound can be heard in acts like Bicep, The Chemical Brothers, and even in the Asian Underground scene, such as State of Bengal.
After four decades and two breakups, the brothers continue to be on top form. One of their greatest hits, Halcyon + On + On, is a definitive highlight tonight, as is the other blissful classic Belfast, though they feel rather short, perhaps because both are excellent. The latter’s light show intro is particularly spectacular, a feast for the eyes. A surprise remix of the Spice Girls’ Wannabe makes up the track Spicy, a shot of dopamine for the crowd.
Leaving fans with a deep drone, the duo return even louder than before, playing Out There Somewhere Part 1 and 2, and concluding with Lush 3 – 1 and Lush 3 – 2, finalising the sentiment tonight: Orbital are masters of dance electronic and not to be missed live.
Photos: Mike Garnell
For further information and future events visit Orbital’s website here.
Watch the video for the single here: