Chemical Brothers, Roundhouse, London
Reviewed by Toby Green
Wednesday 26 May 2010
On one of the first genuinely warm evenings of the year, there is a feeling of excited anticipation among those choosing to pack into a sweltering Roundhouse. They are here for a nights of firsts – the start of the Chemical Brothers' first tour in 18 months, the first of four nights at the Camden venue, and – most importantly – the first airing of Further, the duo's seventh album.
Debuting new tracks live is always a challenge, but Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are clearly not tempted to make it easy for themselves, starting off the night with album opener, "Snow", before playing the whole record in order. Given that most of the crowd are hearing them for the first time, the songs initially don't receive the most raucous response, although jets blowing smoke into the audience from above go some way to raising excitement levels.
The visuals behind the duo are another more sustained device used to hold the crowd's attention during the new material. Set to be released with the album as part of a multimedia package, they are a step-up from your normal video and light show – during "Horse Power", for example, a huge galloping computer-generated beast rears up over the stage. It's certainly diverting and works well with the music, although it would have little appeal outside of a live setting.
The Chemical Brothers have lost little of their crowd-pleasing ability. Playing at an ear-splitting volume, they know how to push the buttons in a large, heaving venue, even if little sticks in the mind afterwards, save "Swoon", a woozy summer track.
After a brief break off stage, they return for a second set based on more recognisable ground, and what follows is a mix through some of their greatest hits, starting with "Hey Boy Hey Girl". Unfortunately, they reach "Chemical Beats" and the finale all too quickly, leaving a crowd that – after patiently listening to the new material – could have gone on well into the night, despite the heat.
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