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The Chemical Brothers, Utilita Arena, Birmingham review - rave veterans play a blinder | reviews, news & interviews

The Chemical Brothers, Utilita Arena, Birmingham review - rave veterans play a blinder

The Chemical Brothers, Utilita Arena, Birmingham review - rave veterans play a blinder

A shamanic dance feast for the ears and eyes

Brothers gonna work it out

Since first coming together in 1989, The Chemical Brothers have done more than enough to earn their place in the Pantheon of Rave Legends. They may not have been there at the birth of Acid House, but six number one albums, 13 top 20 singles and six Grammy awards is nothing to be sniffed at – especially for a couple of nerdy blokes who basically push buttons on boxes of electronic gadgets.

Rave, Techno, Big Beat, Electronic Dance Music, whatever you want to call it, however, is essentially a medium best experienced in the live arena. The soundtrack to a communal experience, where audiences can lose their minds and their inhibitions on the dancefloor, while tripping out without any hint of self-consciousness. So, if you can’t do it in front of a crowd, it’s all a bit of an exercise in aural electronic masturbation.

The Chemical Brothers, however, can most certainly do produce the goods live. Almost 35 years since they first lined up a needle on some vinyl in front of a crowd, Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands have refined the art of blowing people’s minds and getting them to move their bodies like maniacs.

Augmented by the most spectacular visuals, involving lights, animations, lazers and Dada-esque films, their soul-enhancing tunes are still nothing short of transporting to an alternative reality. Even in front of a crowd made up of legions of 30-, 40- and 50-somethings (with a fair smattering of youngers too) in a vast barn like Birmingham’s immense Utilita Arena, they blow minds and raise the temperature like electronic shamen.

“Come with us” a huge skull mouths as the beat first kicks in and Birmingham doesn’t need asking twice. “Go” has huge purple acrobats jumping and spinning across the massive screens, followed by an enormous face with red devil horns demanding “Just get yourself high”. There may not have been much evidence of brain spanglers in the audience, but with this entertainment, they were hardly necessary.

“Hey Boy Hey Girl” was met with howls of recognition. Hands went up in the air and feet stomped the floor in a fervour. “Saturate” was a feast for the ears and eyes, as the dancefloor became a cauldron of human soup with dry ice and coloured lights adding plenty of spice. A flock of huge weather balloons were let loose to bounce on top of the outstretched limbs to demands of “Free yourself”, while the acid squelch of “Chemical Beats” put many a smile on the faces of these getting down and letting rip.

Inevitably, “Block Rockin’ Beats” brought the main set to a close as all Hell was let loose in a chaotic cacophony of strobes and smoke. But this was not the end. Ed and Tom soon returned with the old-time rave groove and rolling bassline of “No Geography” and a colossal face declaring “I’ll take you along with me” over and over. This slid into “The Darkness You Fear” and finally the trippy “Private Psychedelic Reel” before the audience finally emerged into the autumn night, looking truly spent and wrung out.

The Chemical Brothers blow minds and raise the temperature like electronic shamen

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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