The Chemical Brothers are the only one of dance musics nineties big guns to remain at the top of their game. While the likes of Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld and The Prodigy also helped to drag dance music from the underground into the mainstream, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are really the only artists from that old elite who continue to produce dance music that is both popular and credible.
With one of their best albums to date, We Are The Night, under their belts this year, the Brothers are still working it out. Having played both at the Electric Proms and in Trafalgar Square in recent months, tonight sees the duo rounding off the year in the somewhat more traditional setting of Brixton Academy.
Dance music is all about the rush but is it normal to get goose bumps on your head within the first 30 seconds of a set? Starting with Galvanize the sensory overload from the speakers, screens and light-show is immediate and joyful. Its like being on a roller coaster that is forever doing a loop-the-loop as Do It Again, Hey Boy, Hey Girl and Out Of Control follow.
Their back catalogue is extensive now and they could easily spew out a tired greatest hits set but the Chems dont resort to such hackneyed laziness. Instead, every track is twisted and contorted, almost completely beyond recognition at times, to extract every last drop of energy from it. Out Of Control borrows elements from Primal Scream while Star Guitar sees New Order‘s Temptation thrown in to get those goose bumps going again. Its certainly euphoric and the crowd gradually loses its inhibitions section by section, throwing themselves into recent album highlight Saturate then Chemical Beats as multicoloured lasers dart overhead.
The encore is no more restrained. A giant eye looks over the stage and a deep sub-bass thud pounds away until the duo return to launch into Leave Home which then morphs into Block Rockin Beats. Das Spiegel brings the set to a close and provides some sort of relative calm before the lights go up.
Its like Tom and Ed have the holy grail of dance music on their mantelpiece at home, drinking from it to continue producing both albums and live performances that show no sign of faltering. If you dont like being bombarded and overwhelmed, avoid the Chemical Brothers at all costs. If you need convincing that dance music still has the energy to raise spirits, arms and smiles then catch them live now.