Leftfield: Birmingham Institute – live review
9th October 2015
Dance Music Legends return with new sounds, and bring along their infamous soundsystem, Louder Than War’s Christopher Lloyd reports.
Many assumed Leftfield, the pioneering, legendary dance act, were no more. It’s been sixteen years since their last album, and fifteen since the last outing of the legendary Leftfield Sound System, which famously caused physical damage to many a venue up and down the land.
Out of nowhere ‘Alternative Light Source’ the new Leftfield album, appeared this summer, and it stands up to its two predecessors. Those that could only have dreamed of seeing the band live were ecstatic that they would finally get the chance to see the infamous Leftfield live show.
This small run of dates kicked off with the title track to the new album, and within seconds every hair on your body was physically shaking.
Many people talk about how loud Leftfield are live. What struck me is that they’re not overtly loud, their genius is knowing how to use sound correctly. You walk out of a Leftfield gig and you don’t feel like your ears are bleeding like they would after a Dinosaur Jr or Atari Teenage Riot show for example, but during the set, the sound physically shakes you, vibrates through your teeth, and blurs your vision. It’s a phenomenal experience, and what better way to experience it than with a set that doesn’t just revel in past glories, but focuses intently on the newer material, whilst throwing in a a small smattering of reworked classics from the debut, and much underrated ‘Rhythm & Stealth’.
The newer material, such as ‘Universal Everything’ and ‘Storm’s End’ have masses of texture to them, if dancing isn’t your thing (and it surely wasn’t for a good third of the rapidly ageing crowd) then you could certainly lose yourself within the vast swathes of melody flowing through every minute, whilst hopefully not losing your bowel control courtesy of the insanely intense bass assaults.
Visually the band has never been better. A lot of time and effort was put into the light show, which wasn’t far off the kind of spectacle Trent Reznor would put together.
Whether Leftfield now continues in a more prolific fashion is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly great to see them back where they belong, right at the top of their game.
All words by Christopher Lloyd. More writing by Christopher can be found at his author’s archive.