Escaping Further and Back
Londoners caught the newest venture from the Chemical Brothers and the verdict is, unsurprisingly, a big thumbs up
In one of the hottest London summers, crowded in a sweaty closed venue where it was a fight to keep your minuscule standing space, no one had any complaints. And that was because this was a Chemical Brothers gig. The electronica duo was doing two special shows on May 22 and 23 at the London Roundhouse to promote their seventh album, Further. This eight-track album comes after 2007’s hugely successful We Are the Night.
Although their previous tour may have been the first electronic act to play at Trafalgar Square, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons made a smart venue choice with the Roundhouse at Camden, a London favourite. The high ceilings were an excellent background to surround the crowd with massive visuals. This was a necessity, because it is not enough to listen to Chemical Brothers; one had to visually experience the sound.
Long time visual collaborator Adam Smith goes all out in taking the audience to a strange outerspace. The psychedelic blues, greens, purples and reds are enough to get you high without consuming any illegal substances. The visuals of Further told a story, beginning with ”˜Snow’ which had a drowning girl falling into space. Next came the first single, ”˜Escape Velocity,’ with its manically beautiful laser formations aided by the ceiling mesh. The smoke jets straight to audience were a superb touch to the third track, ”˜Space Illusion.’
The Brothers were testing themselves alongwith the audience because Further is devoid of vocals. The album is a conscious attempt by the duo to move away from collaborations and be stripped-down, bare electronic music. The music heavily pounded the crowd – the earplugs sold at the stall outside seemed a good idea to many.
If the first set was controlled, the second was completely let loose. The lowered beats signalling the interval were a relief to many who finally had chance to get some air. But hearing the first notes of one of the greatest electronic classics was enough to forget the drink you have stood waiting so long for. ”˜Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ meant both the people and the pyrotechnics went wild. The first half now began to appear as a mere warm-up to the stunning second half. The second half was an anthology of the Chemical Brothers’ greatest hits ”“ ”˜Setting Sun,’ ”˜Saturate,’ ”˜Chemical Beats,’ ”˜Out of Control,’ ”˜Doesn’t Matter,’ ”˜Believe,’ ”˜All Rights Reserved’ and the rare ”˜Under the Influence’ are all anthems on their own. Though the entire show lasted three hours, a set is never long enough to please everyone. Diehard fans were disappointed at the exclusion of ”˜Brothers Gonna Work it Out’ and ”˜Star Guitar.’
The gig ended albeit too quickly, without an encore, much to the disappointment of fans who waited for about 40 minutes for Rowlands and Simons to come back on stage. One crew member was overheard saying that the dismantling of the set would go on till the wee hours of the morning.
The Chemical Brothers have nothing to prove: They have conquered the electronic world and know so well what fans what. Further sounds like the Brothers amusing themselves thinking, “What can we do next?” The result was 500 people. 4 bars. 2 DJs. One mind-blowing gig.