Gig review: Orbital at O2 Academy Sheffield

I can still remember the first time I heard the magically ethereal introduction to Orbital's '˜Halcyon + On + On', the de facto closing number on the Hartnoll brothers ground breaking second long player, also known as the Brown album, named after the colour of the cover.

Orbital at O2 Academy Sheffield. Picture: Mike Price
Orbital at O2 Academy Sheffield. Picture: Mike Price

Kirsty Hawkshaw’s sampled vocal served as a gateway into a treasure trove of electronic delights, the band’s live performances also proving the stuff of legend. It’s therefore welcome to see that following a couple of hiatuses, Paul and Phil Hartnoll are back making music again. Their latest album ‘Monsters Exist’, their ninth in total and first for six years, still managed to break the UK Top 20, whilst featuring an appearance from leading physicist Professor Brian Cox whose spoken word introduction starts tonight’s live performance.Resplendent in their trademark head torch glasses with Phil his usual barefoot self, the pair take to the stage complemented by typical team Orbital visual pyrotechnics, the distinctly post-industrial title track filling the air, the first of an opening brace from the new record as Professor Cox is once again reprised on ‘There Will Come A Time’.

Tonight is my first introduction to their fine new long player, naturally very much of its time with the banging ‘P.H.U.K’ (standing for Please Help United Kingdom) arguably the standout track, the visuals showing a speeded up geological history of the separation of Great Britain from continental Europe, and continuing the band’s long tradition of including political and environmental commentary in their music.

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The arrival of ‘Impact’, still sounding as effervescent as it did a quarter of a century ago, sends the expectant crowd another level, the gathered throng suddenly going for it big time, with tonight’s material also including other Orbital favourites ‘Satan’, ‘Belfast’, ‘Doctor’ as well as the aforementioned ‘Halcyon, complete with Belinda Carlisle outro; with each and every one greeted like an old friend.

Orbital at O2 Academy Sheffield. Picture: Mike Price

No Orbital show is complete without the obligatory ‘Chime’ and the brothers don’t disappoint, one finding it hard to believe the seminal acid-house standard will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year; how time flies when you’re having fun?