The Chemical Brothers at the O2 Arena
Saturday night saw The Chemical Brothers take over the O2 Arena for the second time in their careers, as part of their For That Beautiful Feeling tour. The show was an overwhelming synergy of sound, visuals and basslines throbbing through you from the ground up. This was not a gig for the easily overwhelmed; it was a pummelling sensory overload from start to finish. The 20,000-capacity venue was packed to the rafters with an ecstatic crowd. One patron had sewn lights all through their puffer jacket and raved at the front of a block of seating like a neon shaman of dance, which was really joyous to watch.
The set opened as it meant to go on with high energy, furious beats. A natural opener was their 2015 song Go, the complex, staccato vocals from Q Tip proving irresistibly motivational. They followed that with a surging mix of Do It Again and Get Yourself High – although, only the most intrepid psychonaut would get high to this onslaught, as one young atttendee seemed to have learned the hard way on leaving. He was upright but, alas, he had pharmaceutically lost the use of his legs. The friendly crowd encouraged and helped him towards home.
The visuals, provided by Smith & Lyall, were suitably freaky. A blue-faced demon turned up early on, as did an assortment of many dancing figures made of lights. They were meticulously choreographed with the music and some songs had little mini films in them. One visual sequence had a woman who looked like a young Romola Garai swimming down into water before re-emerging in slow motion, which was simple but mesmerising. As the night went on, out came beaming, shuddering multi-coloured lasers, which in a venue of this size were spectacular. Lights flashed, giant inflatable balls emerged, and confetti burst from the roof midway through the concert. They could not have thrown any more at it. And the crowd responded massively. It’s quite an experience to be amongst 20,000 people dancing their souls out. In the row in front, more and more ecstatic Cockney geezers kept turning up to join their group of mates, to embrace and enjoy the show.
There were many highlights, such as the energetic Got to Keep On and especially the encore of the Darkness That You Feel, leading into Private Psychedelic Reel, which was a crowd favourite. That ending felt cathartic and optimistic. The set was relentless, and while it might have been good to have a few quieter moments so that they could bring the crowd up again, that was not what this night was about.
Photos: Ambra Vernuccio
For further information and future events visit The Chemical Brothers’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Goodbye here: