The past, present and future of electronic music all rolled into one psychedelic, spellbinding performance.
Jack Beadle
17:47 8th October 2018

London's Alexandra Palace is a big ole barn. It's a beautiful and unique space, but one that can be tough to fill adequately. Bands in particular have struggled in the past to handle its strange echoey reverb, making gigs feel un-intimate and lacklustre. On Friday night, The Chemical Brothers played their first of two sold out shows at the iconic venue, and suffered in no way in terms of loss of grandeur, performance and intrigue.

For years now, their live shows have been a touchstone of how to bring added visual interest to the aesthetic problem of two DJs standing on a stage twiddling knobs. Opening with a version of The Beatles' ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, the journey begins as sections from their peerless and diverse back catalogue are interwoven with each other to create new productions right there in front of our eyes. And make no mistake: there's no just push play here: tiny errant bleeps or beats give a reassuring (if infrequent) confirmation that this is all them, live.

Credit must also go to the lighting and production team. At times terrifying visuals on the screens perpetuate the hallucinogenic world The Brothers have created for themselves, which are bolstered by a brilliant use of aerial confetti cannons, mesh screens and lighting rigs which have to be seen to be believed.

Having said all that – The Chemical Brothers also just bring the party. They deliberately strip away all the added production when the just want the dancefloor to rave again. When they dropped hits that are still on heavy club rotation to this day (‘Hey Boy Hey Girl', ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’) or even new track ‘Mad As Hell’ - the jostling crowd went berserk. The energy continued throughout - a sign of a real knowledge of how to command a dancefloor, long before DJs such as themselves began occupying venues such as Alexandra Palace.

Spoiler alert: The Chemical Brothers are the past, present and future of electronic music, without a whiff of becoming a heritage act. Last night's show was testament to that. There have been murmurs recently that their touring days may be numbered - so if you haven't seen them live yet, do so sooner rather than later. They don't make em like this nowadays.

The Chemical Brothers played;

Do It Again 
Free Yourself 
Mad as Hell 
Chemical Beats
Temptation New Order 
Keep on Making High 
Hey Boy Hey Girl 
Escape Velocity 
Eve of Destruction 
Under The Influence 
Doesn’t Matter 
Surface to Air
Block Rocking Beats
Got Glint 
The Private Psychedelic Reel

Grab your copy of the Gigwise print magazine here.

Photo: Charlie Raven