written by Chris Familton
Touring on the back of two albums that came out in the 90s can pigeonhole a band as a nostalgia or heritage act and many attend to relive that part of their youth when they connected with the music. Leftfield are one of the ‘Big Four’ of UK 90s electronica alongside Chemical Bros, The Orb and Underworld yet they are probably the act that has done the least to maintain a long term career. With all that in mind, how did they fare in 2011?
Well first up was a super short DJ set by Kasey Taylor followed by Perth’s Infusion. They too have been around a while which translated into a tight and professional set of rock slanted electronic tracks that ran the gamut from drum n bass lite to acid and techno. The inclusion of vocals added a nice layer to their sound but didn’t really contribute anything in terms of great lyricism. They did a sterling job in warming up the crowd though and showed why they are considered one of Australia’s best live dance acts.
From the first bass thrum rippling forth from the Enmore’s impressive PA it was clear that this was going to be a special gig. Sonically it was near perfect with deep, trouser flapping bass and crystal clear high end synths and percussion. It was one of the loudest shows I’ve attended at the Enmore but never painfully so – such was the quality of sound. Neil Barnes is running the Leftfield show now that partner Paul Daley is off concentrating on DJ work and he was certainly the central figure managing sequencers, synth and bass duties while the impressive Sebastian Beresford on drums and Adam Wren on keyboards tweaked and layered the sound.
A ton of tracks from both albums were played with accompanying visuals enhancing the tripped out feel of the music. Highlights were the pounding breakbeat of Phat Planet, the guest vocals of Jess Mills on Original, the dubbed out Storm 3000 and the massive hip hop heavy Afrika Bambaataa collaboration Afrika Shox. Not everything worked though, the MC posturing of Cheshire Cat was dated and laughable but that was a minor distraction from the rest of the show that had the entire crowd bouncing in unison, especially when Djum Djum ignited the crowd with Afro-Left. Leftfield most importantly showed how electronic music should sound and feel. Life affirming stuff.
this review first appeared in Drum Media