808 STATE + ABSOLUTE. – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 29.10.21
Electronica band 808 State hail from Manchester and they pioneered Acid House Music back in 1987. The legendary outfit were set to bring their full live show to Brighton’s Concorde 2 way back on 24th April 2020, but then covid struck. We waited patiently and thankfully the show was rescheduled for this evening, the 29th October 2021.We had waited no less than 553 days!
808 State was formed by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson (aka ‘A Guy Called Gerald’) and they took their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine. They released their debut album, ‘Newbuild’, in September 1988.
The band secured commercial success with their classic UK top 10 single anthems from the 1989-1990 period are the timeless ‘Pacific State’, ‘In Yer Face’ and ‘Cubik’/’Olympic’. They were to have one other ‘The Only Rhyme That Bites’ with MC Tunes. They initially released six studio albums from 1988 to 2002 and then went totally off of the radar until 2019, when Graham Massey returned with Andy Barker to unleash the ‘Transmission Suite’ album.
808 State’s recent live performances have seen new material introduced, alongside the classics, with a more organic improvisatory nature due to the march of new portable and gig friendly music technology. This is reflected in this evening’s performance at the Concorde 2.
Support this evening came from Absolute. aka the brightly colour haired Anthony McGinley who played a pounding part live/part DJ set with added keys and tweaks in order to get the punters in the mood. It was loud, full of heavy bass, fast, uplifting and got punters dancing. Find out all manner of information on this artist from his extensive ‘linktree’ page HERE.
808 State had ironically missed the opportunity to take to the stage this evening at 8:08pm, as Absolute. concluded his set at 8:09pm. However, 19 minutes later, at 8:28pm, the mature 61 year old Graham Massey and his trio of chums hit the stage.
This evening, there were live drums on stage right (our left) from a bloody brilliant metronomic drummer; stage left (our right) there was a laptop and a whole host of knobs to twiddle from a guy that clearly wasn’t born when 808 State had gained their initial chart success, and behind him a chap lurking at the back that could have been in control of the lasers and lighting. Massey was in the centre and in charge of no less than five keyboards, which were a Novation, a Yamaha Reface DX and two Roland’s as well as one I couldn’t quite identify, but I think it was a Moog.
They promisingly began with their highest charting single ‘In Yer Face’ a No.9 track from 1991 which was effing loud. In fact the whole set was, but I can’t really complain as I was at the very front and leaning on the crowd control barrier near the speakers. The lasers and lighting was very impressive.
They followed ‘In Yer Face’ with the pounding ‘Trinity’ the first of just two tunes taken from the current ‘Transmission Suite’ album. The other being the mid-set ‘Ujala’. Track three was listed as ‘80808 Techno City’ on their setlist. This could more than likely be ‘808080808’ from the 1989 ‘90’ album. There was a definite nod to Orbital and Kraftwerk during this number. The bass synth notes reverberate right through my chest and feet…..Luv it!
The instrumental dance tunes come fast and furious in an almost continuous mix. After the mellow techno theme ‘Pacific State’ from the ‘Quadrastate’ EP made a splash, 808 State signed to ZTT and released remixes under the title ‘Pacific’ which was performed live for us next and Massey picked up his straight saxophone – which looked like a Thomann TSI-350 Sopranino Saxophone with its brass body and gold lacquer finish, or one very similar – and played along to the pumping beat. This was terrific! This was the first of a few outings for the instrument. Massey also played his Fender and Gibson guitars during the fifteen song set. On the first playing of the Fender (at around 9:15pm) it sounded like The Shadows – ask your grand-parents!
We had acid house and techno blurps and bleeps and continual drumming right the way through their performance. Mid-set there was a quieter tune which brought the mood down and for me it took a while to pick up again, There was a little too much guitar work for a band of this ilk me thinks! It didn’t reach the heights of the early numbers until we got to the penultimate tune which was ‘Cübik’, which can be found on their 1991 ‘ex:el’ album.
Massey stated that the venue had a curfew at 10pm and that ‘EXO’ (a tune by HENGE that they have recently remixed), will be the last number. This concluded in plenty of time as they finished ten minutes early at 9:50pm and they did actually take to the stage 13 minutes later than planned, so maybe we could have been given just one or two more tunes?
Just prior to Massey leaving the stage, he informed us that on one of his previous trips to Brighton when they supported Madness at the Brighton Centre (which by my reckoning was on Thursday 17th December 1992) he had actually had breakfast in the Grand Hotel the following morning with Mr Sulu (of ‘Star Trek’). I know a few people that would be slightly envious of that and would love to have breakfast with ‘Gorgeous George’.
808 State setlist:
‘In Yer Face’ (from 1991 ‘ex:el’ album)
‘Trinity’ (from 2019 ‘Transmission Suite’ album)
‘808080808’ (from 1989 ‘90’ album)
‘Pacific’ (from 1989 ‘90’ album)
‘San Francisco’ (from 1991 ‘ex:el’ album)
‘Ujala’ (from 2019 ‘Transmission Suite’ album)
‘Corba Bora’ (from 1989 ‘90’ album)
‘Sunrise’ (from 1989 ‘90’ album)
‘Metaluna’ (found on 2011 ‘Blueprint’ album)
‘Donkey Doctor’ (from 1989 ‘90’ album)
‘Bataglia’ (from 2019 ‘Initial Granada Report’ album)
‘Quincy’s Lunch’ (from 2002 ‘State To State 2’ album)
‘Cübik’ (from 1991 ‘ex:el’ album)
‘EXO (808 State Remix)’ (from 2021 ’Exo/Goldilocks: Club Mixes’ 10” single by HENGE)
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