The Chemical Brothers @ Alexandra Palace in London, UK
Review & Photography by: Reece Gibbins
A psychedelic rave show to the highest standard, never losing its raw energy and not forgetting where it came from.
It’s Saturday night and the crowd at London’s historic Alexandra Palace are pouring in. Looking around I see the middle-aged masses with smiles already beaming on their faces, they’re mad for it. The Chemical Brothers have obviously been in the crowd’s hearts for most of their partying lives. The duo, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons were one of the best electronic acts of the 90’s, bringing their big beat, trip hop inspired tunes to the charts, with 2 UK number 1’s for ‘Setting Sun’ and ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’. Their music did not die in the 90’s, instead it evolved leading to more bangers throughout the early 00’s and up to modern day with one of their latest songs, ‘Mad As Hell’ sounding new but at the same time seemingly influenced by 90’s Acid House.
Back to the gig, and it begins with an atmospheric cover of The Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ teasing the audience that this is going to be a psychedelic experience. Then without warning, ‘Go’ explodes through the speakers, it’s funky bass-line sends a groove through the crowd. The next song ‘Do It Again / Get Yourself High’ sees the start of their well-known live visuals engulfing the LED screens. Throughout the entire set the visuals, combined with perfect lighting elevate this performance to the next level. Giant robots shooting lasers from its eyes, a curtain of strobe lights and dancers flying across the screen all hypnotise the audience. Even when confetti drops from the ceiling about half way through the gig, it does not seem gimmicky, instead the lights and lasers reflecting on it create another interesting element to throw shapes through. It’s no surprise that their live visuals are so imaginative. They have always had an eye for hiring great minds to create their visual art and its importance with helping to enhance their music. You can see it in any of their trippy music videos.
Then they drop ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’ and it no longer feels like we’re in a Victorian concert hall, it just feels like 10,000 people raving. I start noticing a mixture of all ages, the younger generation possibly discovering them for the first time, and the older generation taking their last opportunity to drop an E before becoming a Grandparent. All of these people are coming together for a great time. It feels euphoric.
The 3-hour performance finishes with a 20-minute encore of songs that slowly bring the crowd down, ending on ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’. This was one of the best trips of my life. Everyone should try T.C.B.
Find the setlist here