I’ve spent most of the the last week at the Glastonbury festival and have seen all sorts of wild and wonderful stuff, from the extremely mellow and melancholy Unthanks, to the amazing antics of the lords of lightning at the Arcadia stage. But as I could have predicted but was not 100% sure about the standout moment of the weekend for me was Orbitals triumphant return to their almost regular slot at the festival.
Orbital have always been a great “Arena techno” act. But this time they outdid themselves. The set started out with some unchanged classics from the first two albums the production style could almost be said to have been slightly knowingly retro, but as I watched the set develop (and danced like a lunatic to the point were a girl on front of me asked if she could buy some of what I was on and looked confused when I offered her some organic wine from a plastic bottle) what I was noticing was the creeping in of some more modern and almost electro tinged edges to a few of the reworked tracks.
The new work Orbital displayed during the set (Don’t Stop Me & The Gun Is Good) were while not as atmospheric as some of their older work extremely good to dance to with good punch nice use of vocal samples and had definitely got that Orbital “epic” edge. I was trying to think of why Orbitals work still stands out after so long and I think it comes down to their ability to build a track from something atmospheric and almost verging on ambient into something powerful, easy to dance to and with a certain unmistakeable “Orbital Epicness”.
Of the whole set a lot of hype has surrounded the appearance of Matt Smith (the current Dr Who) on stage for their rendition of the Who theme which was the grand finale of the set. While having such a nice nerdtastic guest appearance is pretty cool, for me the stand out track of the evening was the current version of “Satan”. Just listen to the track and you will instantly recognise how ahead of their time orbital actually were, how progressive yet danceable, never getting caught up in having a sound linked to one particular style. The middle section of Satan almost sounds like a predecessor to a lot of the minimal techno we hear today but with that unmistakable Orbital stamp. All in all gig of the weekend for me and highly recommended if you can see them on tour, I even enjoyed the slightly odd use of a ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ by Belinda Carisle sample halfway through the set.
You can be sure of one thing. These boys still give great show.