The star by some distance at [a]Leftfield[/a]'s first UK show in four years is the sound itself...
The last time [a]Leftfield[/a] took to a UK stage, some four years ago at Brixton Academy, they literally brought the house down – the group’s deafening volume and wall-wobbling heavy-heavy bass sound managed to dislodge large chunks of the venue’s ceiling.
Come Brixton on this, only [a]Leftfield[/a]’s second ever UK tour, and you suspect that the recently refurbished venue will easily withstand everything Neil Barnes and Paul Daley can throw at it.
It’s not that the ‘Rhythm And Stealth’ show isn’t as famously loud as the pioneering ‘Liveism’ tour – it is: 130 decibels is a loud as you can get without seriously damaging people. More that every other band has since copied [a]Leftfield[/a]’s grand design and hiked up the volume and installed a dozen more bass bins; even Noel Gallagher wanted to know the secrets stored in the Liveism sound desk for use at Oasis shows. He didn’t get them.
After a disappointing display at Ireland Homelands and a few brushes with worried health and safety officials at shows on the continent, there are few more welcoming (or crazed) places in the world than the Barrowlands for Barnes and Daley, two men pushing 40, to properly begin their British tour.
Unlike their stadium techno peers – Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Underworld– the [a]Leftfield[/a] live experience doesn’t rely on eye-popping visuals for effect, but instead bases its dark aesthetic on anonymous warehouse rave culture. Sure, Barnes, drummer Daley and live accomplices Adam Wren and Nick Rappalucci spur the typically enthusiastic Glasgow crowd at every opportunity with towel-throwing and air-punching. Yet the star tonight by some distance is the sound itself: booming Teflon-coated bass and rampant, relentless deviant dub.
There’s MC Cheshire Cat too, chattering and toasting on the song ‘Chant Of A Poor Man’ and ‘Inspection Check One’, prowling the stage and bellowing over ‘Phat Planet’‘s freshly-toughened digital dub riffage. Elsewhere older tracks like ‘Storm 3000’ and ‘Song Of Life’ staple Vangelis synth shivers to unfeasibly-hard techno.
It’s easy to accuse [a]Leftfield[/a] of being one dimensional, of possessing one particularly brutal dub-based idea, but when the plan of action is executed in such a heroically truculent and astonishingly loud manner, for 90 minutes, it’s sounds like the best idea on earth.