Tonight we partied like it was 1996
This was the first of two nights at the Camden Roundhouse for Underworld, the second a rescheduled date from last October, and the first, this one, likely to be catering for demand to see one of dance music’s finest.
The atmosphere as Underworld took to the stage was similarly highly charged to a major headline gig at a festival. Yoav ddid a good job of getting those in early in the mood for a party, and that’s exactly what Underworld were hear to deliver.
They opened with recent single ‘Crocodile’, with its early nineties electronica feel it’s right up there as an Underworld classic. A bank of synthesisers and live guitars created the backdrop for Karl Hyde’s distinctive, sometimes understated, occasionally haunting vocals.
All the classics were present, complete with plenty of improvisation and electronic trickery. For long periods this would seamlessly link one song to another, creating a DJ mix-like performance.
The first of the big hitters to appear was 2002 single ‘Two Months Off’, followed by ‘Shake That Higher’.
Mid set featured a bunch of songs from the band’s breakthrough period (1996). ‘Second Toughest in the Infants’ tracks ‘Cherry Pie’ and ‘Rowla’ led into another section of improvisation before the mainstream crowd pleaser ‘Nuxx’. Random bit of information fact fans, this song wasn’t initially an album track, instead a B-side. Then came ‘Train Spotting’, it became better known as ‘Born Slippy’ and the rest they say…
Worth telling you here that, soon after ‘Nuxx’ had finished, the people in the guest area immediately to my left, who had turned up late, disappeared again. Surely they weren’t only interested in seeing one song? Ahem!
They missed the now sweat drenched crowd being treated to recent tracks ‘Beautiful Burnout’ and ‘Glam Bucket’, both from 2007 album ‘Oblivion with Bells’, plus classics ‘King of Snake’, the hypnotic brain fuck rave track ‘Dark Train’ (also from ‘Trainspotting) and ‘Push Upstairs’ which brought the set to a close.
Underworld returned to the stage for an encore consisting of arguably their finest moment, ‘Jumbo’ rightly receiving a huge reaction.
Some may have found the long improvised sections weren’t for them, but this was after all a dance music gig from a band who thrive on their creativity in the live arena. Underworld are set to play Hyde Park this summer for the Wireless Festival. If their appearance co-insides with a warm July night then it will unquestionably be one of the London shows of the summer. If your Scotland or North based you may be more interested in their Rock Ness date. This Roundhouse set proved that, while Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy may grab the dance music headlines, Underworld are definitely one to see if you’re musical leanings take you in the direction of electronica.
Key set tracks (not including ‘Nuxx’):