Facebook Slider

Orbital, O2 Manchester Apollo

  • Published in Live


Tonight the Hartnolls took to the stage with a set-up that looked positively minimal when compared to the industrial-scale rigs of previous years. From the outset it was clear that the visual effects had not undergone similar reduction. Displays across the top and bottom of the stage created the illusion of a letterbox, through which the crowd could see the bobbing head-lights of ambient techno’s most accomplished duo.

Opening track, ‘Lush 3-1’ from 1993’s “brown” album, heralded a set that would remain primarily within the pair’s earlier works, but all reworked magnificently to sound as fresh and exciting as they did nearly 25 years ago. In some cases I had to wait for a good few bars before realising which tune was being played. For two hours, including encore, the set-list rarely ventured beyond 1996, keeping well away from the early 2000s and the much-maligned The Altogether

It was great to hear a couple of tracks from 2012’s Wonky, the title track off that album and particularly the encore-closing ‘Where Is It Going?’ Just to ensure the entire evening wasn’t a retrospective, two tunes had their live debuts; ‘Phuk’ and ‘Tiny Foldable Cities’, both proving that there is still plenty of cracking material in the locker. 

Given that the brothers have been producing the finest electronic dance music since 1987, their passion has not waned, even when playing classic tracks like ‘Belfast’, ‘Chime’ and ‘Halcyon’, which they could be forgiven for delivering by rote, but instead they give thumping renditions of these old favourites, bouncing around behind their kit as if they were playing a rave inside the M25, circa 1989.

 The stand-out performance of the night had to be a new mix of ‘Satan’, which was delivered with a face-melting intensity that had everyone in the place going mental. There are rumours of a tour next year and, on the strength of this latest outing I say, bring it on.


Orbital - Wonky

  • Published in Albums

It’s been quite a while since listening to an album made me lose track of the passing of time but Orbital's Wonky did just that, to the extent that I ended up oversleeping and being late for work. I didn’t hold it against it though so it soundtracked my workday too.

To say I’m wary of groups reforming (even if the members are related) is an understatement. Even if originally couched in terms of a hiatus, rather than a falling out with 3 members, for example, going off to do various levels of nothing then reconciling to rake in the cash from potential tours to places they never previously made it to, there’s the whiff of financial gain being the driving force about such events. Happily I don’t get that feeling at all in this instance. The recent Radio 6 live session and interview had already convinced me but the quality of the new music now revealed has set the seal on things – the Hartnolls’ creativity is undimmed, indeed positively enhanced by their joint return to active duty and the 3 year honing of the 9 new tracks since they returned to live performances in 2009.

You’d know this for an Orbital album anywhere as the distinctive yet still hard to pinpoint elements of their sound are evident in abundance right from the off. That’s not to say though that developments in their field have passed them by – ‘Satan’ has been re-worked into the bass and beats heavy ‘Beelzedub’ and dubstep and grime rear their heads at points (indeed grime leads to the album’s weakest moments, mostly the bits featuring Lady Leshurr on vocals on the title track).

‘Wonky’ aside though the duo never put a foot wrong over the course of fifty minutes and final track ‘Where Is It Going?’ easily rights any wrongs perpetrated by its predecessor. You’ll have this on repeat for weeks.

Subscribe to this RSS feed