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Saturday 2 September 2023

Saturday Live

I keep coming back to Underworld, one way or another they've kept reappearing in my musical orbit over the last year. Not that they often went far away previously. They seemed like prime candidates for this regular Saturday series, an electronic/ dance music act who have been blowing away live audiences for the best part of three decades. Back in the 90s when dance music started to play live and some of those acts quickly grew to become festival size- Orbital, The Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Leftfield, The Orb among them- but none more capable of moving a crowd than Underworld. They've kept that up, even after the departure of Darren Emerson in 2000 (who played a massive part in giving them the sound and rhythms that connected with a bigger audience following the release of dubnobasswithmyheadman... in 1994) and in recent years they've filmed and recorded a huge number of their live shows. Back in 2000, following the triple whammy of 90s Underworld albums- dubnobass..., Second Toughest In The Infants and Beaucoup Fish- they released a live CD/ DVD, a recording of a show in Brussels in May 1999, titled Everything Everything. It is a superb document of them at that point, seamless dance music, crunching beats, Underworld's gliding metronomic rhythms, Karl's stream of consciousness lyrics, a  massive light show and visuals, the crowd feeding off the energy on stage and Underworld feeding off that energy in front of them. 

After the ambient, building intro they segue into Juanita and then Cups, Push Upstairs, Pearl's Girl, Jumbo, King Of Snake, the inevitable Born Slippy NUXX, Rez/ Cowgirl (the source of the album's title) and finishing with Moaner, ninety minutes of breathless, thumping trancey progressive house. The show in Brussels was Darren Emerson's last with Underworld. It's a fitting finale. 

Underworld have been in the habit of giving all sorts of goodies away via their website. At the very start of this year they made a live track available as a free download, Eight Ball, recorded live in Tokyo in 2022. I shared it earlier this year but am reposting it here, a song that has survived its appearance on the soundtrack to The Beach to become one of their best songs, a long drawn out, shimmering opening section, a dull four four kick drum, gentle wash of FX and Karl's soft singing voice, some guitar, layers of sounds gathering and pulsing, a long drawn out glide of a song. 

Eight Ball (Live In Tokyo, 2022)


Rickyotter said...

Absolutely classic live set Adam, I can remember getting this the day it came out on DVD. If I remember rightly the disc had the back projections from Tomato along with the music - they really are a complete audio/visual act

Swiss Adam said...

Yep, you're right about that Rickyotter, back in the day when DVD offered all sorts of extra features.

Ibex1251 said...

Yep... That's a hell of a live recording and it is soundtracking this sunny Monday evening in Scotland. Jah bless x