Orbital Review

The Hartnoll brothers have brought their melodic techno to the masses for over two decades, and they’ve still not had their fill. In fact they’ve given themselves a hellish workload this year with the release of their eighth studio album ‘Wonky’, and the soundtrack to drug thriller ‘Pusher’. They even managed to squeeze in a performance of “Where Is It Going?” with the help of Stephen Hawking at the Paralympics Games Opening Ceremony. Phil and Paul continue their slog right into winter with 13 UK tour dates.

As expected, the majority of the crowd at Brighton Dome tonight appear to hail from the days when techno was cool and glo-sticks were a socially acceptable party accessory. We overhear a lot of gush about past Orbital performances and their Glastonbury years. It sounds like we’ve missed out on something amazing.

The crowd are drawn back into the 90s to the sounds of ‘Halcyon’. The flashing solar system visuals on the screen behind the brothers look like a dizzying old-school computer game. The crowd are frenzied, lapping up the nostalgia. The Dome initially seemed like an odd venue for a rave down memory lane because of its period features, but it’s now looking like a techno paradise. The crowd happily dance under the erratic green lasers to the freakish blend of Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ and Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven Is A Place On Earth’.

The crowd are similarly excited by the tech-house of ‘New France’, which is a tad surprising considering it’s one of the new ones. Phil and Paul’s trademark head torches nod firmly to the beat. You have to respect them for steering clear of all the usual showman wankery. It’s actually quite magical when Zola Jesus’ gothic wails come in, but we can’t help wishing she were here delivering them live.

It seems like the duo have strayed a little too far out of their fans’ comfort zone with ‘Beelzedub’ – their attempt at dubstep. This experiment tries very hard to be sinister and the words “toxic”, “wake up” and “infectious” flicker across the screen as if it were a Marilyn Manson concert. The crowd tolerate it, but it doesn’t gather the same excitement as the more uplifting ‘Wonky’ tracks. The crowd are much more responsive to ‘Doctor?’, Orbital’s rendition of the Doctor Who theme tune, and of course, to the old favourite ‘Chime’.

We might have caught Orbital well past their heyday in 2012, but as the saying goes – better late than never. And you have to hand it to them – they’ve managed to get the entire crowd dancing up a sweat tonight, and all before 11pm.

Brighton Dome, Tuesday 11th December 2012
Words by Nisha Bhakoo