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MTV Dance launch, 30th June 2001, The Ocean, Hackney
ARTICLE INFOYou dont pass up the chance to go and see your favourite dance act play live practically on your own doorstep. When Orbital hit London they usually play at the Brixton Academy, down in the wilderness south of the river. So a one-off gig at the Ocean in Hackney, a new music and arts venue carved out of an old library and, more importantly, within ambling distance of home, is just the thing to round off a summer Saturday.
Orbital: The Altogether DVD
added 2001 october 24 by emptyjames
The venue is small, smaller than any place Ive seen Orbital before, and the brand new metal, glass and concrete interior sets the mood perfectly. Its an MTV event, so signs all over remind you that youre being televised, and just by turning up you consent to being made to look like an idiot for a global audience. Arriving late, we wind our way through the gathering crowds to a prime spot right in the middle of the hall. The warm-up DJ finishes his set, and lights go down
The Hartnoll brothers live method is unique. You might wonder how an electronic act can play live, but here the solution is simple. They put most of their studio on a stage and, trademark head-mounted torches activated, re-create and re-work the hypnotic music youve known and loved for years into something new and yet instantly familiar.
Breaking straight into the sinister new track, Tension, the sound is at once vast. Not unbearably loud, but so insidious that that basslines and melodies fill your head utterly, leaving no room to think about anything else. And the strobe lights and projected visuals only serve to magnify the feeling to the point that even closing your eyes has no effect the signals are going direct to your brain through whatever orifices they can find. The Hartnolls love it as much at the crowd does, jumping up and down like excitable kids on stage, and waving and signalling to their congration when they want them to react or calm down.
Orbitals always mesmerising visual accompaniment has evolved to the point where they hardly use traditional screens anymore, instead projecting often surreal images and messages onto giant, rotating facsimiles of those plastic sheets aspirin come packaged in. So as they rip through the stand-out tracks from the latest album, and old favourites from ten years at the cutting edge of dance music, you focus on footage of Pac Man escaping a maze of camcorders and fridge-freezers, and it doesnt matter that it doesnt make much sense because its just the most amazing sound and at the same time such a multi-sensory experience that trying to convert the feeling into words is almost pointless.
And after a stunning revised version of Are We Here?, they leave the stage to a universal call for more. You know theyre going to deliver. And they do. The three tracks of the encore have almost as much impact as the rest of the set put together. Satan always generates a massive reaction from the crowd, and tonight as no exception as they slow down the ending to loop perfectly into their now-signature reinterpretation of the Doctor Who theme. These last moments are where the sound really re-tunes your brain, and if it was addictive before, now theres no way to tear your attention from the stage as they finish with Chime and the hardcore fans at the front decide that a conga-line is the perfect way to cap it off.