Sunday, April 27, 2008

I've been pretty busy over the last couple of months and still haven't quite had the chance to blog about the Underworld gig I attended close to two months ago. Given how much fun I had that night, it's simply unacceptable. However, as the memories have faded with the passage of time, this review will be a lot shorter than my usual gig reviews.

Did someone just say, "Phew! Thank goodness!"? Harumph.

In a nutshell, Underworld were fantastic. Frontman Karl Hyde proved that age was no barrier when it came to high octane performances. He was simply mental, dancing in a way few people would ever dare to do in a club. And he did it throughout the entire concert, while singing. He was amazing. I love to dance but I doubt I could sustain it the way he did, and he's almost 20 years older than I am!

It wasn't just Karl's great performance which made this show so memorable. It was the way they did the visuals and mixed all of their considerable material into the concert which made it so wonderful. While it was just the turntables, the screen (which showed, among other things, video clips of Space Invaders and Pong) and Rick Smith, Darren Price and Karl on stage for the first part of the concert, the concert was raised to another level when props (most notably the gigantic air tubes from the music video for Two Months Off) were brought on stage during the build up to Two Months Off. Between the neon lights bouncing off the tubes, Karl's hypnotic vocals and the great melody (especially the thumping climax of the song)... It was simply awesome.

Credit: (url)

On top of Karl's dancing, his sheer, crazy antics just made the show that much more enjoyable. At one point in the concert, he held a hand-held camera which was broadcasting to the giant screen behind the band, and he turned it around to film his face and pulled the camera back and forth while simultaneously spinning round and round as he was singing. So, yes, what the audience saw was Karl's giant, deformed head with a constantly moving background. It was freakin' trippy for sure! I don't know how the people who were drugged up (and, trust me, there were quite a few) took it, and it would have been cool to find out what it was they were seeing.

The song I'd been dying to hear (and the song which the duo must be the most sick of, come to think of it) was the anthemic Born Slippy. That song is one of the greatest dance tracks ever made, in my humble opinion. It never fails to move me - both physically and emotionally - every time I hear it. It's such a perfectly put together track that just hearing that melody makes me breathless and almost brings tears to my eyes.

Now, I think most bands would simply have launched into their well-known tune without needing to build it up in any way, but Underworld, being the musical geniuses that they are, had to do it differently. And man, what a build-up. They started with the bassline from Rez, which morphed into an improvised intro by Rick, and then gradually built in the bass of Born Slippy before incorporating that oh-so-familiar intro. Karl's vocals sounded even more impassioned than the record, and just fed the crowd's frenzied response. It was incredible.

That's pretty much all that I can recall from the night. It was a fantastic gig and if you're a fan of electronic music, you should do all you can to catch an Underworld gig. With a great frontman (Karl is one of the best live performers you'd ever get a chance to see), stunning visuals and simply incredible music... what more could you ask for?

Underworld's MySpace page
UnderworldLive - The duo occasionally do live broadcasts of performances from their studio as well as concerts. The next broadcast is scheduled for June 11, 2008 at 6 pm, UK time. Live recordings of their gigs can also be purchased here for £15 per gig.
Underworld - Two Months Off (February 28, 2008 at the Roundhouse)
Underworld - Born Slippy (February 28, 2008 at the Roundhouse) - Judging by the response of the crowd to this tune, it's clear that I'm not the only one who is extremely in love with this tune. I defy anyone who proclaims to like dance music to tell me that this tune does not rock their world.

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