Orbital are one of those outfits that are a great many things to a lot of different people; ambient music with personality for those with an ear for pop. Sufficiently cerebral noodlings that appeal to those with a penchant for classical music. Punk-pop for dedicated electro fans. Anthemic, Kraftwerk-infused techno that indie kids can get down with. Tonight, the Brothers Hartnoll’s wide palette of sounds and influences has drawn out a curious crowd of clubbers, revellers, hipsters and the plain nostalgic.
By turns touching, bracing, energetic and joyous, Orbital can easily be relied to put on a staggering show. A festival and arena staple in the -90s, they announced their ostensible -retirement’ tour five years ago. Suffice it to say that retirement seems to have suited the Hartnolls. Revived of outlook and enthused of gait, they take to the stage as though the alleged burnout of ’04 never happened. Truth be told, their much-heralded return to Ireland – courtesy of a headline slot at the Electric Picnic – turned out to be something of an anti-climactic damp squib.
Tonight however, their back catalogue fits the more bijou surroundings of Tripod perfectly. We seem to have dropped into a strange air pocket in the time-space continuum…and not just because Orbital are using the same visuals deployed for their 1995 show in the Point Depot. Classic crowd-pleasers like -Lush 3′, -Satan’ and -The Box’ sound as bracing and vital as ever. What’s more, it is bewildering to think that -Chime’ celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, for it sounds as box-fresh and innovative as it did back then. -Halcyon’ also deserves a notable mention, for Belinda Carlisle’s -Heaven Is A Place On Earth’ and Bon Jovi’s -You Give Love A Bad Name’ are worked into the mix (just as they were during their momentous 1994 Glastonbury set). Given that the song is already a sepia-tinted anthem, the mash-up is a popular tactic that pays off handsomely.
The set is bereft of any tunes from Orbital’s 1994 classic Snivilisation, but no matter. If anything, their illustrious back catalogue proves that Paul and Phil Hartnoll have nothing if not heaps of soul. That, and a healthy dollop of nostalgia makes for a wondrous Saturday night.