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ORBITAL @ Chevron Gardens gets 9/10


Orbital @ Chevron Gardens
w/ Feels, DJ Anton Maz
Saturday, March 2, 2019

9/10

Paul and Phil Hartnoll, the brothers better known as UK electronic pioneers Orbital, have long been regarded as one of the greatest, most important, genre defining groups of all time, and a renowned live act. Tonight, they showed just why, putting on a tour de force, in their first ever appearance in Perth over their 30 odd year career.

Feels

They have broken up previously on two occasions, but both times were tempted out of retirement. After breaking up in 2004, they reformed in 2008 to start touring again, released a new album in 2012 (Wonky) and did an extensive world tour that only took in the east coast. After they announced they were breaking up again in 2014, we thought we’d once again missed our chance to ever see the legends in Perth, but in 2017 they became active again, coaxed into various festival appearances, which led to more touring and eventually their 2018 album Monsters Exist, which sits comfortably alongside their best work. And thanks to Perth Festival, they’ve finally made it to Perth.

Feels

Local duo Feels had the honour of warming up on the night with their unique brand of live percussion and bouncy electronic beats, though a lot of the crowd were hanging outside in the beer garden, excitedly chatting, enjoying the last weekend of this great space. Indeed the old school Perth rave crew were out in force, with many familiar faces – all as pumped about this special appearance from a legendary formative group from their heyday, that they never thought they’d get a chance to see live. There was a veritable buzz in the air.

Orbital

The rush to the bar before Orbital also resulted in some large queues, that really weren’t dealt with well – staff were being overwhelmed, with lines moving incredibly slowly, resulting in some irritable punters, keen to get back in and claim their spot. Eventually everyone made it inside fully stocked up, just as the lights went up, and the giant video screens exploded into life.

There was a gradual start as the visuals appeared, flashing with static and a giant ‘loading’ icon, and spacey imagery, building the anticipation. Then the familiar comforting sound of Professor Brian Cox’s voice greeted us, though to remind us that “one thing is certain, we will die.” It was a remixed version of the profound last track on their new album There Will Come A Time that features a speech from Cox about life and the cosmos. While starting a little dark, it ends up being quite inspirational, concluding “life is precious and fleeting”.

It was an epic intro, and the cue for our boys to appear onstage atop a giant platform behind a stack of synths and various other equipment, sporting their trademark head-lights, drawing rapturous applause from the crowd.

Orbital

The lighting and visual setup was truly next level, and as they picked things up with the big ominous breaks of the title track of the new album, two things were immediately evident – we were in for quite a show, and this crowd was very much up for it and came here to dance.

They were obviously focussing on the new album – the banging P.H.U.K. really got things fired up with it’s classic Orbital tweakin’ synth sound, and the incredible sonic adventure of Tiny Foldable Cities sounded even better live. The heavier sounds of Vision OnE was saved for later, and an undoubted highlight was Hoo Hoo Ha Ha with its awesome wonky horn part inciting mass dancing, including from the boys themselves, particularly the moustachioed Phil, while Paul seems to be more active behind the equipment.

Speaking of Wonky, the title track from their previous reformation album got a guernsey too with its peaky grimey rap from Lady Leshurr taking things to new heights. Orbital are a truly live act, and rework all their tracks live – breaking some down, before slowly building them back up to incredible peaks.

But of course they weren’t going to play all new stuff, when they have an incredible back catalogue going back 30 years that includes some of the greatest dance tracks of all time – and being their first visit, they gave a us a generous helping, though waiting till towards the end of the set to break out the big guns.

Orbital

The start of Halcyon + On + On drew massive applause, as its beautiful vocal part emerged. The classic track was given a full workout, and at one point they unexpectedly mixed in Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth and Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name over the top of each other in incredible fashion, before resolving back into the original track.

Satan has always been one of their heaviest tracks, but the live version they busted out tonight reached new levels of intensity, with the driving synth bass tweaked to the max, as the lights exploded in a strobing haze of red and video screens lit up with religious imagery, including some footage of George Pell. They obviously stay up to date with their news. Despite being an instrumental electronic act, Orbital still manage to subtly covey political and environmental messages through their music and performance. And their current visual show is mind-blowingly melded with the music.

It was left to the glorious sounds of Belfast, another all-time classic of theirs, to finish the set, with appropriately majestic visuals. A fitting finale, but of course the crowd weren’t letting them go that easily, and they were soon back for a short encore of the game-changing, seminal Chime. It was their first hit that started it all, originally released in 1989, said to have been recorded on their dad’s tape deck.

Recorded 23 years later, Where Is It Going? from Wonky was a more upbeat tune to finish the night on a high, but it seemed to be over way too fast. It was 10.30pm and sadly due to the strict set times, that was it. While it was shame we didn’t get to hear Doctor?, their infamous Dr. Who theme remix, as part of the encore, like they did over east, it was nonetheless a magnificent show, delivering on all the hype and expectation of all these years.

DJ Anton Maz sated the crowds appetite for more in the garden bar with a great set of dance classics, and kept the party going into the night on this truly special evening. We can only hope Orbital stay together longer this time and come back soon!

ALFRED GORMAN

Photos by Tashi Hall

 

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