Cardiff University Great Hall

Sweet revenge is theirs...

To think they used to call [a]Leftfield[/a] progressive house. One must conclude that it took Neil Barnes and Paul Daley five years of hard work to reach a state of simplicity as divine as tonight’s opener – an undulating, near-featureless bass drone that sends a shiver down your spine, raises the hairs on the back of your neck, and threatens, ever so seductively, to shake your innards out through every available orifice.

No, you can forget that ‘progressive’ tag: the modern [a]Leftfield[/a] experience is fiercely, proudly retrogressive, putting its finger on the pulse of all those influences – dub reggae, Detroit techno, PIL‘s ‘Metal Box’ – and digging down into the roots to find some distant-buried purity.

Now, a good year on from its release, the once-impenetrable contents of ‘Rhythm And Stealth’ have become familiar, like an old friend – albeit, the sort of old friend that arrives, unexpectedly, on a Friday night with a bottle of Jack Daniels, drags you out on a crawl of sado-masochistic industrial techno clubs, and pushes your inebriated, unconscious body into a cab at 6am on Saturday morning with a tissue pressed against your head to soak up the blood that’s pouring from your perforated eardrums. ‘Chant Of A Poor Man’ is an ever-quickening deep-bass assault, but it’s ‘Afrika Shox’ that’s the killer. Afrika Baambaataa‘s vocal may be replaced by some unnamed feller with a vocoder, but it’s none the worse for it, a genius rumble of elemental dub thunder, simple as it is effective.

Even a brief power failure – and the fact we have to cut short proceedings before the ‘Phat Planet’ climax to race across town to catch PJ Harvey – can’t take the edge from their victory. Sweet revenge is theirs. Next time, the critics will do well to bite their tongues.
Louis Pattison