Review of Orbital live at Leeds Academy on 11th June 09.
Will 2009 become known as the year rave made it's comeback? No sooner had our jaws just clicked back into place following The Prodigy's return with the you've never had it so good vibe of Invaders Must Die, than we saw fellow warehouse veterans Orbital reactivate themselves after a five year hiatus.
It was a break supposedly brought about by one too many fraternal 'My Cubase is better than yours' arguements, but the brothers Hartnoll have a way to go before regaining their Glasto-headlining kudos. I sense this because after another guest list foul up I'm still able to buy a ticket outside for a tenner, after which I joyously leave the disconsolate tout in my wake blubbing something about losing a fortune. Never mind, eh?
Safely inside, I note The Academy is in near darkness as on stage the opener Lush is in full flow, and with the assurance of twenty years of performances in the bag, the siblings are knob-twiddling their hearts out. I reflect that undoubtedly one of the main reasons Orbital have remained sucessful over the years has been their ability to transcend rave's largely faceless legacy by playing electronic music garnished with plenty of rock-like stage aesthetics. This is why seeing them live is essential, even if their records have never really turned you on, and it's the same reason that Michael Eavis made them almost permanent fixtures at his annual Worthy Farm bash.
In a set pulled from all corners of their career and plugging their new compiled release '20', both Chime and Belfast fizz with unbridled kinetic energy, making you realise how shockingly tinny and 303 reliant 99% of their contemporaries were. It's not a greatest hits set as such though, and Impact rubs shoulders with Eurotunnel as more off the beaten track selections. There's also a welcome run out for the thudding industrial classic Satan, complete with typically eye-boggling back projection.
Inevitably though you can't please all of the people all of the time, and for me there are a few glaring omissions - Snivilisations' Forever and Sad But True, Middle of Nowhere's Way Out - none of which would be anything other than my hard luck were it not for what's left in. Whilst covering the theme tune to Doctor Who was fun, The Timelords parody was far superior and there's every reason to leave it in the archives along with the similarly patchy effort they coughed up for The Saint. Exhuming that however pales into insignificance a moment before, the credibility touchpaper lit when the brothers pull out a medley of Heaven Is A Place On Earth - yes, that one - and Bon Jovi's You Give Love A Bad Name. It's funny for about ten seconds, before the smile dies on your lips and then you realise it's probably a good time for the loo.
As ever with comeback tours, what you get out of a night like this depends on what you bring. For those purely on a nostalgia tip, it's perfect. Without new material however, it's impossible to shake the feeling that the whole thing is effectively an expensive greatest hits mix tape. Don't get me wrong, in the face of Miley Cyrus - just like The Prodigy - Orbital are very welcome back. But our new heroes need to emerge soon if we're to have any hope of permanently warding off the Disney/American Idol axis of evil.