Chemical Brothers/Secret Machines : Dublin Point Depot

They might look like mortgage advisers but they sound anything but…

Chemical Brothers/Secret Machines : Dublin Point Depot

St Patrick’s Day is starting early. Mashed-up bastards with green

wigs and glo-sticks are streaming along the River Liffey towards

The Point. The Chemical Brothers can’t fail here. The 8,000

people packed into what used to be Dublin’s main train depot are

ready to ecstatically applaud a man beating a stone with a stick.



However, they’re not ready for a starkly backlit Krautrock-influenced

three-piece who play psychedelic covers of Bob Dylan country tunes.

And that’s a shame because Secret Machines are pretty awesome. The

New York-based trio are all studied, intense drive. The relentless

Can-like rhythm with Spacemen 3 drone is topped with

Brandon Curtis’ cracked and worn voice – a strange instrument with

echoes of Wayne Coyne. The band don’t speak, don’t engage the crowd,

but have a dark, compelling tractor beam that pulls you in and doesn’t let

up. Their cover of Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North County’ is

meaty but spectral – a fine, strange choice. It’s the ten-minute reworking

of ‘First Wave Intact’ that seals their ascent. It starts with a

simple incessant riff and closes with masses of clanging white noise that

leaves you tired and breathless. “Listen close, they’re watching

us”, repeats Curtis throughout the track. No they’re not,

Brandon. It’s impossible to see the stage through a wall of

leprechaun hats.



There are no such problems for The Chemicals. The hordes are

panting, arms aloft like a benign Nuremberg rally. It’s straight into

‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ and the mood of the night is set. It’s going to

be big hits all the way, with a few from the recent ill-received (but big

selling) ‘Push The Button’. The pace is relentless. They surge

through ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’, ‘Music:Response’ and ‘Out Of

Control’
with a verve that says the dance collapse never happened.

‘Galvanize’ is a return to form if there ever was one. A

bowel-shuddering thump recalls the spirit and volume of Leftfield

from a time when it looked like synthesizers could bring down the

establishment.



But a problem remains. The Chemical Brothers still look like

mortgage experts – albeit wearing T-shirts on their night off. So despite

their fierce lasers and expensive visuals, there is still a lack of charged

excitement.

A couple of times, Ed Simmons wanders from behind the monitors and

LEDs and encourages the crowd to give it large. Within seconds he gets

self-conscious and toodles off.



None of this matters to The Chemical Brothers’ massive, of course.

The duo have proved that though dance music is finished as a creative force,

they have a body of work that stands up by itself. And in new tunes like the

Kele Bloc Party-fronted ‘Believe’, they have enough to keep on

keeping on. It would be good, though, if just once they came onstage

dressed like Elvis and set off some fireworks. That would be a SHOW.







Paul McNamee

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