Left to their own devices

Leftfield | Brighton Centre
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The Independent Culture

It has already passed into the realms of folklore, that the last time Leftfield played they quite literally rocked the joint.

It has already passed into the realms of folklore, that the last time Leftfield played they quite literally rocked the joint.

The bass throb of their sound system caused a large chunk of plaster to fall off the ceiling at London's Brixton Academy, causing pandemonium on the dancefloor. A similar catastrophe looked set to befall their Brighton show as the bass frequency threatened to reduce our rib-cages to piles of dust.

Like their peers Orbital and Underworld, Leftfield plump for the heads-down approach, hiding behind a wall of gadgetry and exuding an air of cool professionalism. A large backdrop bears the inevitable visual stimulus, though, to their credit, it's slick-looking stuff - cracks of lightning and thunder-clouds scud across a giant, concertina-like screen.

There are moments when the band are unable to hide their excitement, tossing bits of clothing into the crowd and punching the air like boys at their first gig. But alas, boys they are not. Neil Barnes and Paul Daley are approaching 40, which in dance terms means they should be tucked up in bed with warm cups of cocoa by now. The crowd are a mature bunch as well, thirtysomethings who have abandoned round-the-clock partying in favour of kids and jobs, and who are clearly relishing this rare bout of nostalgia.

As well they might. One of Leftfield's biggest achievements is that they sound as immediate and contemporary as they did in 1995 when they released their debut album, Leftism.

The dub-heavy thud of "Inspection (Check One)" sends delighted shock-waves through the crowd; later, the soporific rhythms of "Storm 3000" offer welcome respite.

Material from their latest album Rhythm and Stealth measures up, too, which must come as a relief to the band after the agony of its inception. Played live, it sounds raw, abrasive and fresh, and Barnes and co seem to be revelling in their new-found vitality.

The apocalyptic roar of "Phat Planet", a song familiar both to couch potatoes and dance addicts after it provided the soundtrack to the last Guinness ad, threatens to submerge us in a tidal wave of aggression. This is not the stuff of super-clubs and disco dollies. It's dangerous and difficult to know. In short, it's just as it should be.

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