mon 30/01/2023

The Orb, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - ambient house duo celebrate 30 years of UF Orb | reviews, news & interviews

The Orb, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - ambient house duo celebrate 30 years of UF Orb

The Orb, Hare & Hounds, Birmingham review - ambient house duo celebrate 30 years of UF Orb

Another reefer spin with Dr Alex Paterson

The Orb keep it green

Ten minutes before The Orb got on stage at the Hare & Hounds, Alex Paterson was standing in the building’s courtyard with a big old spliff in his hand “clearing his head” and getting ready for action. So, it was good to know that some things don’t change.

The audience of this sold-out 30th anniversary celebration of the ambient house trailblazers’ second album, UF Orb, similarly largely looked like they could quite easily have been there the first time round too. A room full of mainly 40- and 50-something blokes, with a surprisingly small smattering of female counterparts, were packed in, shoulder to shoulder, ready for an evening of electronic space exploration powered by dub grooves. Needless to say, brain-frying clouds of secondary cannabis smoke were no longer as prevalent as they had been in 1992, but times have obviously changed.

Alex Paterson, in an Eat Cheese Worship Satan T-shirt, and latest recruit to the electronic duo, Michael Rendall, climbed onto the stage looking more like roadies than stars of the show and started up a slowly-building gumbo of birdsong and panpipes that eventually slipped into “UF Orb”. This immediately lit up faces with beatific smiles and got bodies swaying. However, while their sound had required banks of gadgets and gizmos 30 years ago, the band’s gear could have almost fitted in a single large suitcase for this show. Not that the music was any less impressive than before.

“Blue Room” encouraged hips to roll and hands to be thrust in the air from those grooving by the stage as the bass ebbed and flowed through the samples and a snatch of Victor Lewis-Smith’s hilarious prank phone call to the BBC, from the original album, introduced the mighty “Towers of Dub”. Yet, the evening’s entertainment wasn’t only to be culled from the UF Orb album and before long a young American girl’s voice was proclaiming that “You’re the best boyfriend that a girl could possibly have” and a sampled Lee “Scratch” Perry was calling out to “the meek and the humble” from the magnificent “Outlands” from the band’s debut album. This had Dr Paterson grooving and skanking behind his laptop and mixer as the gritty techno of “Assassin” started up and picked up great swaths of bouncing reggae vibes and tripped out spaciness in its sonic path.

This being The Orb, the crowd was also treated to the sublime “Little Fluffy Clouds”, which was met by plenty of appreciation before it dipped into an amalgam of Malcolm McClaren’s “Buffalo Girls”, Eminem’s “Without Me”, Pink Floyd’s “One of these Days”, Minnie Riperton’s acapella “Loving You” and The Orb’s own “Toxygene” among a host of other tunes. It was a fine reminder of a time when the dance scene temporarily freed itself from self-imposed musical boundaries and where anything went, as long as it sounded good and got people on their feet and moving their bodies. And that is surely something worth celebrating.

It was a fine reminder of a time when the dance scene temporarily freed itself from self-imposed musical boundaries and where anything went

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Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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