Underworld, The Roundhouse, London, October 2007
Time heals all wounds. As does immense bass. Back again playing live, Underworld were a must see, and when they announced a show at The Roundhouse we had to go. The venue is basically a club: large semi-circular ground floor, a big open space which you can enter and exit from around the circumference that faces the stage, plenty of space, an easily accessible bar… and huge sound system. The show was packed with hundreds of up for it nutters. Quiet Wednesday night? My arse it was. It was pretty obvious about 60 seconds in that most people had Thursday off work (if they were smart). Karl Hyde began the show with a monologue of free-form prose, along to video they shot that day, announcing the return to familiar surrounds "…the sense that Essex is very near… London, we come home to thee, boozed but ready for celebration!" And then straight into 13 minutes ‘Rez/Cowgirl’. Lights flashed, smoke plumed, Rick Smith and Darren Price began to start mixing and slowly building the madness… just as huge inflatable sausage-like airbags began to fill up and drape themselves across the stage. “Everything, everything, everything, everything…”. Underworld, and particularly the album dubnobasswithmyheadman were what got me into electronic music. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, yet done with a human side to it all. Their relentless deep techno beats mixed with the layers & banks of synths (I always picture of some massive, Jodrell Bank type facility of antiquated computers making all this for some reason). Magic. Crowd was brilliant, pickled, off their chops, 20-60 years old! Holding up signs saying ‘This way to Romford’, whooping, screaming, leaping, sliding… and hugging. Munters everywhere. The whistling and cheering was a huge part of the night, and since the venue was so intimate and the band themselves were really only ‘just there’ it felt quite spesh. Cripes they have some tunes across their albums: the glitchy piano of ‘Push Upstairs’, the beautiful synthy & shimmering ‘Two Months Off’, the skull-fuck hammer of ‘Moaner’, the electro workout of ‘King of Snake’, the anthemic 90s zeitgeist manifesto ‘Born Slipppy/NUXX’ and the almost ambient, guitar inflected ‘Jumbo’ which they finished with. Genius. No wonder, that along with The Chemical Brothers and Orbital, they were regarded as ‘The Big Three’ in dance music. Stunning gig that left me shattered the next day, but as I said, we had prepared and taken the Thursday off! Bonus from the show was that when you purchased the tickets online, you could choose the option to get a live recording of the gig thrown in, so as we left that night, we collected a double CD of the show we had just seen. There was a truck full of CD burners outside going furiously. As I type this, I am listening to the show. I could pick one of the huge bangers as this post’s tune, but I think I will instead go for ‘Two Months Off’ from the album A Hundred Days Off just because it typified the big, warm, dancey atmosphere inside The Roundhouse that night, when outside it was a dark, cold, autumn evening.