Live Music + Gig Reviews

Orbital @ Somerset House

21 June 2002



There’s really nothing like dancing to great music under an open sky on a warm night, and sadly this was nothing like that. Whilst Orbital were up to their usual high standards, nature decided to quite literally rain on our parade, and the band’s entrance was greeted by the start of an almighty shower that kept itself going throughout most of the gig.

Not that this was going to upset the plans of the hardened ravers. For 12 years Orbital have been making a beautiful racket, and a bit of rain wasn’t going to stop them now. As the first synthesized pulses of Remind blasted out onto the crowd the massed ranks of soggy dancers erupted as one. With their trademark head torches bobbing up and down, and their skyscraper sized breakbeats assaulting the crowd, all thought of staying dry was well and truly abandoned.

With a new greatest hits album to promote, it was a welcome trawl through their back catalogue, with just the highlights of their last two albums mixed in. Taking their familiar tracks and pulling them apart at the seams has been standard Orbital practice since they first established themselves as the premier live techno act, and tonight was no exception, their well known hits were stretched and remoulded. A blistering take on Belfast gave way to the baroque drum and bass of The Box perfectly suited to the elegant surroundings of Somerset House.

By now the steady drizzle had become a downpour, and as the band smashed into a rabble-rousing Satan the heavens opened with renewed ferocity, but still nothing could dampen the spirits of the crowd. A beatific Halcyon followed with its ethereal vocals, and plucked guitar cut up with the now familiar samples of Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi.

Much like an Acid House Last Night of the Proms, we came fully knowing what to expect and were delighted when we got it. Encoring with the Rave call-to-arms that is Impact with it’s mammoth breaks, siren wails and discordant Terry Riley horns, their dirty electro version of the Doctor Who theme music, and the final song of the night, a euphoric Chime. We were battered, but not beaten by the weather, and if their last couple of albums have been slightly under par, Orbital proved tonight that live they are still the leaders in their field, or as in tonight’s case courtyard.

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