As I Walked Along the Supposed Golden Path

the We Love Underworld thread

Started by WhiteNoise, Sep 11, 2015, 15:35

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Last few tickets have just been released for Alexandra Palace next week!

Anyone interested!?

2 more days  :o

I seriously lament that an Underworld show for me is far off. Way too far off.


OK. So a few days have passed since the 'Surreal Carnival Experiment' and I thought I'd give a brief (by no means Whitenoise quality) review of the event.

First off, Alexandra Palace is pretty exceptional. I'd never been before and I didn't know there were views of London city like that anywhere. It's one of the many things I've fallen in love with in America - being able to see cities rise up out of the horizon and find spots to take in the whole cityscape (Griffith Observatory in L.A., Gasworks Park in Seattle, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago). So the venue was perfect. Inside they have a festival type set up with food carts and craft ale (managed to find Rogue's Pale Ale from Portland!) and the space is huge and very inviting for sound.

So the 'Surreal Carnival' I guess kind of kicked off when we walked in - video screens displayed around the venue with various looped clips of members of the production team (as well as Rick and UW's manager and former JBO boss, Steve Hall). There was a screen in the centre of the food area which had a button attached - allowing folks to record a 3 second loop of themselves in the camera which was then displayed up on the big screen. Pretty cool - though not really 'surreal' or 'carnival' related (more on this later).

From 7 Rick began DJing from a large centre console in the middle of main space in Ally Pally, surrounded on all 4 sides of the console by huge hung sheets projected on with lovely, albeit rather generic, visuals. These varied from nice multicoloured textural plates to more basic bouncing white balls and occasionally some footage of a dancers and live video of Rick that was being blurred and altered on the fly. This was especially enjoyable to watch as the effects were such that he would kind of materialise out of nothing as the camera feed was wiped and strecthed - and whenever you saw him he seemed to be having a wonderful time playing what was essentially an hour and a half of new music.

Now, I have to say, the music in this warm up was my favourite part of the night. Despite the weird air in the room of people clearly hanging around for something else - not paying a huge amount of attention from where I was near the stage - the set was really wonderful. It included new and very much altered versions of tracks like Play Pig, Low Burn and Lenny Penne.
It was the connection here to the Riverrun series that had me in full appreciation mode. The set was, for want of a better description, like Riverrun Part 2. It switched up from ambient tracks to techno rollers, to soft house rhythms and back around again to more ambient journeys often with Karl's dulcet tones roaming around on top. In terms of it being a 'taste of what's to come', I would not be at all surprised if they were planning another meandering set of tracks like those of Lovely Broken Thing, Pizza For Eggs and I'm A Big Sister - which excites me a great deal.

Now. Where does the 'Surreal Carnival' fit into this? I hear you asking. Well... It doesn't really. And that was the first really disappointing thing about the night. There were 3 carnival type folks dressed up on stilts (as seen in this video clip - dancing to Born Slippy which they were not around for when it was played later in the evening) that made their way through the crowd during Rick's set. And that was it. No sideshows had been set up. No decorations. Nothing at all surreal. It really felt like the name was tacked on at the last minute (along with the stilt goblins) to try and make a Rick DJ set seem more interesting (which it really didn't need to be).
I was also hoping for more input from Tomato - the art side of the Underworld coin - maybe in the form of reimagined covers like those of the recent anniversary editions, or maybe some revisited video work from their finer days touring STITI and Beaucoup Fish. But no. Visual wise it was just the 4 sheets for Rick's set and then the current 'here's the title of the song we've just started playing' during the proper set. So all in all, a rather underwhelming experience for the eyes.

So as Rick is wrapping up, he drops an instrumental (dub?) version of Down Pipe - Underworld's collaboration with Mark Knight & David Ramirez. The crowd finally seem to be getting a bit more excited for whats to come though this is to be followed by the obligatory 30 minute wait for the band to appear on stage which was met with several pathetic heckles from folks around me ("We're ready now!", "This is about us, not you!", "HURRY UP!") - it's like these guys had never been to a show before...

And this is where it starts getting super disappointing.

The crowd. I'm in a bit of a minority at my age. I see some other 20 somethings (which I'm still technically allowed to refer to myself as), some young couples - folks who, like me, must have gotten into Underworld from outside the clubs as they likely wouldn't have been old enough to attend their shows when they first started listening. But the majority of the crowd is, I would say, over 40 and moving up to over 50. Great! I'm thinking to myself. The old school ravers, coming to show their support for a band they've grown up dancing to. But. As it would turn out. These older folks are actually just there to watch. To stand still and watch. To criticise people for taking photos and videos (yes it's annoying but it's also 2017), get moody when they have to wait 30 minutes between sets and ultimately suck the energy out of the room. There were honestly times during the first 30 minutes of the show that I was the only person on my feet dancing. They recognised the songs but were content to just stand there as if it was some avant garde jazz performance that needed intellectual scrutiny. It was weird. You could even say it was surreal...

So I'm trying to have fun during the set - which I'll go into in a sec, but is essentially their current best of show - but I'm made to feel like my dancing is inappropriate for the occasion. I'm trying to bring Glastonbury levels of energy and I'm met with open mic night complacency. It was distracting and ultimately gave me too much space to focus on what wasn't quite right about each track they played. These are songs that I have grown up dancing around my room to. In their live form too (which could have ended up being somewhat detrimental to my enjoyment). I know every sound that's coming and and connecting with them all - except that this is now my third time seeing them play these versions and I'm actually a little bored.

A few folks have mentioned it before in this thread but the whole Greatest Hits shebang is not working for me. Almost every song is cut down to what may as well be a radio edit. There's no segueing between tracks and barely any exploration within them. They start, they play the hooks, sing the lyrics and stop. Even new additions to the set (for me) like Cups (Geoff will have to remind me if they played this in Pomona - I kind of feel like they may have?) and Moaner are pale reflections of their former self. Everything sounds thinner - like they've chosen not to include certain layers - and too much focus is payed to the BIG SOUNDS. The chords in Two Months Off is a great example. They're wonderful. Magical in fact and every time I hear them I feel warmer. But that song is not just about the chords. It's about the 38 seconds of drums at the end. Or the 2 minute breakdown in the middle. Or the glistening descending arpeggio, that in this show was blurred into a bland wave of treble.

I don't know. I'm being harsh for sure and it's almost certainly from being spoiled by fantastic live show recordings from years before. And they're getting on. They don't have the energy to do a 24 minute medley of Juanita, Cups and Push Upstairs. But I really feel like I could have had more fun listening to their Live In Tokyo set loud at home, than being embarrassed for landing on people's toes when I'm jumping up and down to Kittens.

So yeah. Riverrun Part 2 was great. Some really fantastic versions of tracks with that wonderful Rick Smith vibe throughout the first hour and a half. And a solid set to follow with some pleasant additions that were a lot of fun to see live for the first time (I forgot to mention the lasers, but during Moaner they were pretty fantastic). But ultimately I was left wanting more. A lot more. A feeling that I can't say I've ever left a Chems show with. I really do wish they would try taking a leaf out of their book and try giving their audience something a little more special to experience when they come out to see them. For now at least, I wont be headed out to any more Underworld shows until I hear word of them trying new things.

.. Or playing Pearl's Girl. I have STILL never heard it live.

Apologies for the lengthy ramble. I felt like I had to vent a little.
I'm going to put on Live in Toyko now and dance around my room again.

Dude. Thanks for posting a rather extensive review about your experience.

I'm glad that you found some worth in the evening--sounds like Riverrun part 2 was great.

Despite the crowd, I'm totally envious.

But about the crowd--the worst Chemical Brothers show I've ever been to was seeing them in Oakland back in 2005. They played the Harvey Kaiser arena, and were essentially "opening" for New Order.

Nobody. Fucking. Danced.

It was the most awkward shit in the world--I felt exactly like you did. I was trying to get people enthusiastic about the set and see if I could get their energy levels up... but no one was into it. One guy literally just stood there with his arms crossed and ended up bumping into me, seemingly intentionally, when he decided he needed another beer. I spazzed out trying to have a good time regardless, but did not succeed.

The best part about that show was hearing Believe live for the first time. I was like... DAMN. And then I saw them again the next night at Coachella and everything was right with the world.

The entire experience after that next-night Coachella show was encapsulated by some dude, who clearly did *not* listen to electronic music, exclaiming as we left the polo grounds, "Yo that Chemical Brothers set was off the HINGES."

I don't know why people don't allow themselves to have a good time sometimes. I don't know why people have to be lame in a crowd and choose to sit there and go against the flow. But that's the ecstasy and the tragedy--sometimes you feel transported with everyone around you.

And sometimes you feel like the loneliest motherfucker in a crowd.

Anyway, again, wish I could have gone with you. We could have had ourselves a stupid good time.

Here's to the next time.

Underworld have done a "mixtape" for Annie Nightingale's BBC Radio 1 show HERE.
The final track is a mix of Born Slippy that I don't recognise. The tracklisting on the BBC website says it's from a John Peel session, but it's certainly not the version I witnessed them do at Maida Vale back in 2003. *EDIT* Because it's mis-labelled by the BBC (tsk!) and is in fact version A1796 from Disc 4 of the Second Toughest remasters. The fact that I bought the 2CD version of the STITI remaster would explain why I didn't recognise it.  ::)

"Interesting" fact about Annie Nightingale: I first noticed UW when she played Cowgirl on her Sunday evening show circa 1993. Her son Alex used to manage one of my favourite bands - Primal Scream, and he now manages The Chems. 
Tracklist is about half way down THIS page.
Last Edit: Mar 25, 2017, 19:19 by Skyscraper

Quote from: MadPooter on Mar 21, 2017, 03:16

But about the crowd--the worst Chemical Brothers show I've ever been to was seeing them in Oakland back in 2005. They played the Harvey Kaiser arena, and were essentially "opening" for New Order.

Nobody. Fucking. Danced.

It was the most awkward shit in the world--I felt exactly like you did. I was trying to get people enthusiastic about the set and see if I could get their energy levels up... but no one was into it. One guy literally just stood there with his arms crossed and ended up bumping into me, seemingly intentionally, when he decided he needed another beer. I spazzed out trying to have a good time regardless, but did not succeed.

Pooter, I remember that set. It was cause everyone was there for New Order...outside the two of us. Too bad we didn't know each other at the time. Heck, Hernan Cattaneo played a wicked opening set and no one danced. I remember you could hear Tom doing his yelling thing above the vocals...and you could actually hear him...It was sad. Seeing them at Fuji the year before made the Oakland show such a let down.
That would have blown my mind. If I had a mind.
"We going up!" and then pogo for the stars
"why yes, yes you are crazy and I love you for it!" Whirly

Not dancing at a Chemical Brothers show is like going to a wedding on not clapping for the bride.

Just put your hands together you inhuman piece of shit and DANCE!

Okay. Maybe it's not like that. But still--you get the picture.

Did any US folks ever order the Super Deluxe versions of Dubno... or STITI?

I'm curious to know how long it would take to ship as it's only £1.50 more but it says from 5 to 28 working days delivery. If I got it delivered to the UK I'd have to wait about that long to have it brought over to me, so 5 days would be much more desirable...

They were unfortunately too expensive for me at the time to justify getting them, so no... I've had to make do with Spotify.
Never for money, always for love.

I went for it.

We'll see how long it really takes...

I'm very, very excited about disc 2. Those demo versions are always super interesting to listen to. Not sure why Please Help Me is on there though.

I don't think I've heard the Futureshock remix of Bruce Lee either. I've always been a fan of their work so that will be fun.

They seem to be pushing these out before the anniversaries. So maybe it won't be too long to wait for all those Ansum versions of the wonderful 100 Days Off material...


I wonder if they're trying to keep momentum up for another album to drop?!?

Anyone else watching the live stream of their show at Rijksmuseum??

EDIT: They've been reading our concert reviews I think... 3 songs back to back so far, and some new versions of deep cuts like Between Stars and Bruce Lee.


Last Edit: Oct 20, 2017, 19:22 by Enjoyed

Yep, but I missed the start. Looks like WN is watching it too but he's discussing it on a different forum (outrageous!).
Now it's some track with the word Skyscraper in it.

Awesome show so far. @Sky, you missed two new tunes at the start, one with the Between Stars lyrics which was excellent. Both were along the lines of those wonky minimal house interludes they'd do all the time in 2007-2009 shows.
Never for money, always for love.

So it wasn't actually Between Stars?

Downpipe... Very tasty.

WN, is anyone on the UW forum recording it?

Quote from: Enjoyed on Oct 20, 2017, 19:44

Downpipe... Very tasty.

WN, is anyone on the UW forum recording it?
Yes (but I think he's at work...)

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