ORBITAL + SISTER BLISS (FAITHLESS) + GENTLEMAN’S DUB CLUB + SYSTEM 7 + STEVE MAC – BRIGHTON RACECOURSE 29.6.18
Orbital – Gig Of The Year – Nuff Said……………………………………………………….
Oh go on then, I had better review this one and not just leave it at that.
To be perfectly honest, I was quite a bit dubious of the fact that Orbital had chosen to appear 400 feet high above Brighton’s beach up at the racecourse, as I knew that if it was going to be held indoors that it wouldn’t be big enough and if it was going to be outdoors then it gets really windy up there. Needn’t have worried as it was a perfect Friday evening!
Indeed it was a perfect event and I didn’t even visit the popular rum punch bar either, although I wish I had done.
The event took place over on the eastern side of the track opposite the main grandstand, so the many punters had to make their way across the course in order to be in the thick of it. The stage was facing away from the direction of the sea and the impressively loud and clear 21 speaker sound system was booming all evening.
I think that I am correct in thinking that the event got extended time wise as I had originally thought that it was due to kick off at 6pm, but it actually started at 4pm. Glad I got there early as I managed to take in all of the rave acts.
The whole event was run as though it was one continuous megamix with it all being bound together in one harmonious dance vibe by Brighton based Steve Michael McGuinness aka DJ Steve Mac.
Shortly after I arrived Steve was playing possibly the most ‘sweary MF’ tune that’s out there, but after that things started to get better and better.
Before I knew it, it was time for System 7 to take over the reigns. I reckon loads of people wouldn’t have actually realised that the bloke up on stage playing the occasional guitar pieces along to the knob-twiddling uplifting electronic beats is actually very well known and respected within the music industry. His name is Stephen Simpson Hillage and he has been making and producing music for 50 years.
Steve Hillage has in his time been a member of prog rock band Gong, he participated in the debut live performance of ‘Tubular Bells’ with Mike Oldfield, produced records by Simple Minds, Robyn Hitchcock and The Charlatans, he helped bring dance music to the Glastonbury Festival and has even played on William Shatner’s (Captain Kirk) cover of Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’. So at 66 years old, he’s been around the block a bit!
System 7 are a duo, as Hillage is accompanied by his French partner Miquette Giraudy, 65, who he met way back in 1973. She was also a member of Gong. I have to say that I was impressed with their hour long banging choonz set, especially as they were up on stage flying the flag for the mature generation and getting everyone dancing as opposed to they themselves camped at home watching Eastenders or something – ‘ave it!
It was back to Steve Mac for about 20 minutes and then it was the turn of Gentleman’s Dub Club, who are eight white guys – Jonathan Scratchley (vocals), Toby Davies (bass guitar, keyboards,vocals), Luke Allwood (keyboards, vocals), Matt Roberts (trumpet), Kieren Gallager (alto sax), Nick Tyson (guitar), Niall Lavelle (percussion, samples), Tommy Evans (drums) with Harry Devenish (engineer).
Gentleman’s Dub Club look as though they have hot-footed it to the racecourse from their friends wedding. But don’t be fooled by appearances, these guys play really mean reggae.
I was really looking forward to witnessing their set as it reminded me of when I first heard UB40 supporting The Pretenders at the Top Rank in Brighton in 1980. So if you are a fan of UB40’s debut album ‘Signing Off’, then Gentleman’s Dub Club are for you. Their sound has a modern edge to it too just like Kiko Bun also does.
Their Brighton show was full of energy and they were certainly getting to crowd bobbing along with them, with hardly any breaks in between tracks, the decent tunes kept coming and shoeless singer Jonathan certainly knows how to hold the crowd. There’s also quite a hint of the legendary Bob Marley and Misty In Roots in their sound too. Missed their show? Then fear not as they will be returning to Brighton on Thursday 4th October.
Steve Mac was back in control for half an hour and then we lucky punters were certainly up for a treat in the form of a DJ set by Sister Bliss of Faithless.
I have to admit that I was initially a little miffed that it wasn’t a full live set from the Faithless band with singer Maxi Jazz, as I had chosen not to see them live when I had a chance 21 years ago at the legendary Tribal Gathering event at Luton Hoo Estate on 24th May 1997, as their set at the Pacific stage clashed with Way Out West’s (who incidentally will be playing the Concorde 2 on 3rd October) set taking place at the Sahara stage. Funnily enough Orbital were also at Tribal Gathering at the Planet Earth stage. I did not miss them or the legendary Kraftwerk at the Trans Europe stage, where they performed some still unreleased tracks.
So this was finally to be my debut encounter with the glamourous 46 year old Ayalah Deborah Bentovim aka Sister Bliss. Boy, she sure is a master of her craft! Standing high above the punters with her sparkly silver dress and pink trainers and her array of 4 Pioneer DJ electronic magical boxes. She continually flitted from one box to another during her one hour pumping vibes set.
Those people present will understand how great she was and if you have the chance to witness her live DJ set, then do yourself a favour and go. It was not at all cold up at the racecourse and yet twice during her set, the hairs on my arms stood proudly erect as my body tingled with excitement. I showed my mate and the lady next to me, who I didn’t know, rubbed my arm up and down (as you do to a stranger?) as if to feel the energy or something. The reason for these two bursts of excitement was her live mix of The KLF’s ‘What Time Is Love’ (which I will never be able to see live) and her mix of ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless. ‘God Is A DJ’ and ‘We Come 1’ were also brilliant. This was starting to become the best gig of the whole year and there was me thinking that Pinkshinyultrablast’s set back in May at Sticky Mike’s wouldn’t be beaten all year. Before I knew it Sister Bliss handed back over to Steve Mac and she was gone. Effing brilliant girl!
Steve Mac kept the crowd entertained for 25 minutes and then it was the turn of headliners Orbital.
Orbital (who took their name from the M25) are two brothers Phil, 54 and 50 year old Paul Hartnoll who hail from Sevenoaks in Kent. This ground-breaking duo have been setting alight the electronic dance music world for almost 30 years. They certainly hit the ground running with their first release called ‘Chime’, which apparently they recorded on their dad’s cassette deck in a knocked through stair-cupboard in their house. Next minute Top Of The Pops beckoned and a rave anthem was born. Sometimes in music you hear a sound like nothing else you have heard before, such as Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, Kraftwerk’s ‘Autobahn’ or ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order, well ‘Chime’ was one of those moments for me.
The Hartnoll brothers had successfully tapped into the music psyche of the time and have been on and off, riding the wave ever since. Their live shows are legendary with stunning visuals and terrific sounds.
So it’s a quarter past nine and the boys take to the stage (Phil on our left and Paul on the right) whilst it is still light and so we absorb the magnificent backdrop. They don their signature torchlight glasses and off we all go……this IS going to be a night to remember.
The crowd are almost in a frenzy, the rum punches have kicked in then! There’s a sweet smell in the air (not me!) as the first few notes of one of my fave Orbital tracks ‘Lush 3’ puncture the air. Surely the people down at Brighton Marina or still in Stanmer Park in Falmer will also be able to hear this as the sound is mint. It’s crisp and loud.
The visuals are blazing as well and I enter an almost trance-like state. It helped being right at the very front, in the middle, leaning on the barrier as I could bounce off of it or lean on it to recuperate.
Orbital were situated higher above the stage than the previous acts and even those right at the very back would have easily been able to witness their thirteen song 90 minute set. Yep only 13 songs in 90 minutes. Orbital don’t do three-minute throwaway pop songs, they come and grab you and take you on an aural journey like no other. You get transported to ‘Planet Vibe’ and at that time, that is all that matters in the whole wide-world. You are living for that moment and you pray that it will never end.
Next up was a mind-blowing version of ‘Impact (The Earth Is Burning)’ from their 1993 ‘Orbital’ album. If pushed, I would have to say that this and the later ‘Chime’ were the highlights of the set for me, however an updated version of ‘Satan’ would be up there too, along with ‘Halcyon’ (with it’s sample of Kirsty Hawkshaw’s vocal from the Opus III hit ‘It’s A Fine Day’). ‘Belfast’ was terrific on the night too.
Now here’s a random fact, the Hartnoll’s brother-in-law is none other than 50 year old David Gray as in megahit single ‘Babylon’.
Anyway, back up at Brighton Racecourse and the crowd are dancing and making new acquaintances and the Hartnoll’s are well on form. They even perform three tracks from their forthcoming ‘Monsters Exist’ album due out 14th September. I would suggest that these new tracks are a more sedate affair than their previous work, but they were greatly appreciated.
After a mere nine tracks and it was time for a four song Orbital encore, which thankfully included another one of my faves ‘Doctor ?’ as in a rave re-working of the Radiophonic Workshop’s ‘Doctor Who’ theme.
Sadly, it was all over by a quarter to eleven, so as not to annoy the locals on Whitehawk Hill. We didn’t get ‘The Saint’ or ‘Nothing Left’, but it really didn’t matter one iota as I had just witnessed the gig of the year! This will live long in the memory! Thanks guys.
The Orbital setlist was:
‘Lush 3’ (found on the 1993 brown ‘Orbital’ album)
‘Impact (The Earth Is Burning)’ (found on the 1993 brown ‘Orbital’ album)
‘P.H.U.K.’ (will be found from 14th September 2018 on the ‘Monsters Exist’ album)
‘Wonky’ (found on the 2012 ‘Wonky’ album)
‘Tiny Foldable Cities’ (will be found from 14th September 2018 on the ‘Monsters Exist’ album)
‘Satan’ (eventually found on the 2004 ‘Orbital: Live At Glastonbury 1994-2004’ album)
‘Halcyon’ (found on the 1993 brown ‘Orbital’ album)
‘Belfast’ (found on the 1991 debut green ‘Orbital’ album)
‘The End Is Nigh’ (will be found from 14th September 2018 on the ‘Monsters Exist’ album)
‘Chime’ (found on the 1991 debut green ‘Orbital’ album)
‘Where Is It Going?’ (found on the 2012 ‘Wonky’ album)
‘The Box’ (found on the 1996 ‘In Sides’ album)
‘Doctor?’ (found on the 2001 ‘The Altogether’ album)
If you enjoy synth music like the Orbital, then the chances are that you will also enjoy the bands listed below. Simply click on each of the names and they will take you to our concert reviews on those bands:
Fröst, The Human League, Blancmange, The KVB, Digitalis, Battery Operated Orchestra, Halo Maud, Sextile, Gary Numan, The Prodigy, Pinkshinyultrablast, B-Movie, Covenant, AK/DK, Blue Hawaii, OMD, The Fin., Heaven 17, Austra, Vile Electrodes.