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2017 gigs retrospective

Posted: Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:17 am
by MindRubber
Great to see the forums back, they definitely offer something more enduring as I have no desire to be checking Facebook every day to make sure I don't miss any updates or interesting discussions.

Anyway, I thought I'd try and inject some life into the boards (even those this Gigs one isn't directly linked from the official site) with my thoughts on Orbital's 2017 comeback tour, I was at the Manchester Apollo in December. Would like to hear what you all thought too!

Lush 3 - What a great track to start with - no messing about, straight in with a banger. Starting off as a satisfying head nodder it quickly builds up the pace and layers of acid sounds. This track never gets tired.

Impact (The Earth Is Burning) - Rounding off the Brown opening double header is another crowd pleaser. This one always gets the hairs on the back of my neck going as soon as the synth starts. If you’re hands weren’t in the air already, they are by the time the main tune hits you. Perhaps a bit shorter than in previous years, but if that’s the price of squeezing in more tunes from the increasing back catalogue then that’s no bad thing! Part 2 seems to have become more operatic in its finale but segues in nicely with the next tune.

Copenhagen - Loving this more everytime I hear it. It really captures the style of earlier Orbital, while still sounding fresh. The familiar dreamy female vocals with a baseline building for a good couple of minutes before the main melody kicks in. This certainly tickles the right spots and I didn’t want it to stop…. until….

Wonky - Wow! This one has become an absolute powerhouse of a tune and was my joint favourite tune of the set. I remember when it was first released some didn’t like the Lady Leshur vocals as they felt they detracted from the way the tune crescendos (you know, the bit that sounds like an angry cat in a racing car), although I always liked it. Well this live version has the best of both worlds; the first half of the track allows a more instrumental build up, with the vocals used in the second half to take it to another level. By the time the rap builds up to the final punch, the crowd is going absolutely mental! Just amazing.

Phuk - New Track! Having not expected any new material I spend the first minute trying to work out what it was. To my ears this sounded like a cross between ‘Steel Cube Idolatry’ and Underworld’s ‘Rez’. Paul indicated that this one had been knocked out earlier in the week and thrown into the set so it could probably benefit from a bit more polish, but already sounding great and fresh enough to show that they aren’t just rehashing old ground.

Forever - A welcome return for one of my favourite tracks on Sniv. Seems like it’s time for a chin-stroker…except it’s not. The track is kept fairly uptempo and before you know it the track morphs into a bass heavy slice of trance for a different take on the track. If I had any criticism of it at all it was that at times the melody sounded a bit too ‘Tubular Bells’ for my liking. Then the thumping heartbeat starts to come in…

The Girl With the Sun in Her Head - The big tunes keep coming and now it’s the turn of my second favourite In Sides track (favourite being Out There Somewhere part 2). Again the tempo is kept high early on as a thumping dub bass smacks you in the face. This is probably the best live version of the track I’ve heard.

Satan - Satan is a track that has changed quite a bit over the years. It used to be a firm favourite in the 90s, but I found in recent years it became over long, with a jumble of heavy samples thrown in and not a lot of progression. This version was certainly intentionally high-octane with some arresting visuals, but never felt like it had been overcooked. That said, I think it would have more impact if the aggressive parts were contrasted with some breakdowns with stripped back acid bleeps before punching you again.

Tiny Foldable Cities - Another new tune, and clear from the outset that this is not a reworked version of an existing track. I immediately liked the harpsichord style melody, which reminded me of ‘Transient’ and ‘The Box EP’, and this was blended together with a very modern sounding dirty bassline reminding me of Clark’s ‘Winter Linn’ – great to see them constantly evolve their sound and being influenced by modern peers who they probably inspired in the first place! Really liking this so far, and it hints at some interesting new material on the next album.

Halcyon - Back with another classic. After the first few years of hearing this track with the added live cheese, I thought the joke was a bit tired and always hoped the Belinda/Bon Jovi bit would be dropped eventually, but I’ve come to accept this is never going to happen. If possible, the first 7 minutes of this tune have become more beautiful than ever before, then the Heaven on Earth sample kicks in. Thankfully, the Bon Jovi sample is more understated than I remember and the Belinda sample doesn’t go on longer than necessary – an acceptable compromise, and the track finishes well.

Belfast - I’ve never been a massive fan of Belfast…there, I’ve said it. It’s just not one I used to play much, and there are other tunes I’ve always rather hear live. However, since the last comeback gig in 2009 its really started to grow on me, especially when the beats starting pulsing. The live performance of this has never sounded better, and really enjoyed it.

The Box - So after a short break, we’re back for the encore with another great tune from In Sides. I always enjoy hearing this one, half hoping we might hear some elements from The Box EP…in fact, EP part 2 with its harpsichord might mix well into Tiny Foldable Cities! Alas, it’s the normal single version with no great surprises, but still a welcome addition.

Chime - Well we weren’t going home without hearing this one were we? No real surprises with this one, it was exactly as we’ve heard it before. I really liked the way this was mixed into Chime Crime during the 2009 Comeback tour, that now I’m actually disappointed when we just get classic chime on its own! At over 6 minutes, this tune could easily have been condensed to include both without extending the running time too much. Hopefully Crime will make it back again soon.

Where Is It Going? - Finally onto another highlight from the Wonky album. Once this one started I was fairly sure it was the last track given that it was the finale during the previous tour in 2012. It is a good tune to finish with, but at over 10 minutes it felt a little overlong. I don’t think it warrants that kind of extended play when there were so many other tracks I’d like to have squeezed in!
Despite appearing to tease a second encore, we didn’t actually get one! Although after hearing that they played Doctor ? in London I wasn’t overly disappointed. For me, it’s a novelty tune which although I enjoy it gets played live far too much.

Overall, a great selection of tracks for the main set with some interesting twists to keep the tempo bouncing. Although it was to be expected that the comeback tour would be a ‘best of’ set, it did tail off a bit for the encore which was almost completely predictable, with all 3(4) tracks having formed part of the encore in the previous 2009/2012 tours. With new gigs in 2018 to look forward to, I hope for a completely different setlist rather than a rehash of this one – there’s certainly no shortage of a quality back catalogue. Even if a lot of the same tracks are used, hopefully the running order is changed. The encore in particular needs a shake up – I like to be surprised! Despite the minor criticisms, this was a triumphant return and something I thought I'd never see again - so happy they are back and as good as ever!