REVIEW: Spectacular Orbital show stuns Bristol

PUBLISHED: 20:58 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:29 21 December 2018

Orbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry Woodsford

Orbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry Woodsford

Archant

Few acts in the music industry can boast of a career which has spanned almost 30 years and still be relevant today. So Orbital are in a very exclusive club of artists who have not only survived, but adapted during the past three decades.

Orbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry WoodsfordOrbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry Woodsford

The electronica royalty returned to Bristol on Sunday after wowing the South West at The Downs Festival in September.

They are touring the UK playing tracks from their album Monsters Exist, their first studio release in six years.

The O2 Academy, in Frogmore Street, was treated to a warm-up set from Plaid, who were the perfect precursor to the main event. The Londoners did a grand job of whetting the appetite as they built up the atmosphere with melodic and ambient tracks, taking samples from a guitar and synthesiser and chopping them up on the fly.

Plaid warmed up the crowd. Picture: Henry WoodsfordPlaid warmed up the crowd. Picture: Henry Woodsford

There was a 30-minute wait between the end of Plaid’s set and the beginning of Orbital. But as the stage was rebuilt and raised, you could sense the excitement building.

Proceedings kicked off with There Will Come A Time, and the audience was taken on a bleak audio and visual journey. Professor Brian Cox asked thought-provoking questions of what could be in store for Earth and civilisation if the human race does not change its ways as the crowd waited for Phil and Paul Hartnoll to emerge.

A high platform was the perfect stage for them to show off their extensive hardware set-up, with keyboards and synthesisers surrounding the Kent-born siblings and their iconic torch glasses shining brightly throughout the evening.

Orbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry WoodsfordOrbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry Woodsford

This is my second time seeing Orbital live and what impressed me the most about the duo is the thought which goes into their pyrotechnics and visuals.

They understand how music and lighting can complement each other wonderfully and their set up was hugely impressive once again. The sound system was also incredible and the power the bass produced could be felt in your stomach.

Two smaller screens either side of the main stage switched between displaying images of a broken Britain - most strikingly during Please Help UK (PHUK) – or the all-out strobe lights and lasers, which were almost hypnotic to watch at times.

Orbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry WoodsfordOrbital performed at Bristol's O2 Academy. Picture: Henry Woodsford

The brothers are well-known for improvising during their sets, taking well-known acapellas and sampling them into their own electronic sounds.

The Bristol crowd was treated to Orbital edits of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive and Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth, both seemed inspired choices given the dystopian themes explored during the almost-two hour set.

For all the new material which was performed, it was unsurprisingly the classics which were best received. Whether it was the emotional keys and vocals in Belfast and Halcyon On And On, or the classic acid stabs of Impact (The World Is Burning) and Chime, the audience enjoyed their trips down memory lane.

The O2 never wanted the performance to end, so much so the duo came back for two encores and performed an array of hits. When Paul grabbed the microphone to tell the crowd ‘Bristol had always been his favourite city to play in’, the cheers were loud and proud before they closed the show with Lush 3-1 And 3-2.

Having Orbital back on the electronic music scene can only be a positive for the genre. They still have plenty left in the tank and I hope 2019 will bring even more live performances and music from these iconic musicians.

To find out who else is performing at the O2 Academy Bristol, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybristol

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