The Chemical Brothers’ Live Show Is A Terrifying And ‘Euphoric Explosion’ of Light And Sound

The Chemical Brothers perform during the Rock en Seine Festival on August 26, 2023 in Saint-Cloud, France.(Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)
“It’s a big show,” the band’s Ed Simons tells George V Magazine’s Dylan Lewis. “We were here not too long ago in 2019, but even since then it’s bigger and better. It’s definitely different.” They prove it still packs all the elements that make this duo one of the most captivating live electronic music acts on the planet.
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It takes a team of 18 people to bring a The Chemical Brothers‘ show. Only two of those people are on stage, which should go some way to explaining of the scale of the production the acclaimed British big beat duo bring to the table.

The sound

There’s no time wasted as they kick off with ‘Go’ from 2015’s Born In The Echoes, its staccato bass and Q-Tip’s sleek rhymes jolting every single body in the packed Brisbane Riverstage into action. The amphitheatre erupts into a heaving dancefloor that barely lets up across the two-hour set.

It’s a deftly woven tapestry of banging electro beats and warped soundscapes that never stops being captivating. There’s an undulating energy that sees the Brothers build and relieve tension with ease, bringing moments of euphoria, moments of minor terror, and just about every emotion in between.

‘MAH’, for instance, is menacing thanks to the heady combination of its tense, spooky bassline and barked vocals. Beloved 1999 hit ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’, on the other hand, feels celebratory and comforting, it’s like an old friend that has ignited many a dance party in across our lives.

The visuals

The Manchester duo’s seamless, explosive musical display is matched with an unparalleled visual show that adds an extra transcendent quality to proceedings.

Show directors Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall clearly have an ambition as grandiose as the musicians for whom they’re constructed this show, bashing us over the head with a range of stark and stunning visuals.

There are dancers in incomprehensibly wild costumes, adorable animated robots, and wonderfully warped splashes of colour and imagery that truly add a new dimension to the show.

Seeing Aurora deliver a straight-faced vocal for ‘Eve Of Destruction’ on the massive screen while it sounds like the world is melting down is just one example of the many strangely thrilling experiences they serve up.

Sometimes it’s like watching a horror movie. At others, it’s a slapstick comedy. It’s always hard to look away.

If the visuals don’t grab you, the lights definitely will. A rig that would fill a small supermarket is deployed to ensure there’s always a blast of colour to make the beats come further to life, and always a laser to reach for when we need it.

“It can be quite intense,” Tom Rowlands tells Dylan Lewis about being in the middle of this beautiful madness. “You feel like you’re in the middle of the maelstrom a bit.

“It’s fun to create these kinds of intense moments and hopefully it’s a transformative, transporting kind of spectacular. We aim for the multi sensory. Life is multi sensory.”

They nail their aim tonight: we hear them, we see them, we even feel them thanks to the bottom end that cuts through us in songs like ‘Block Rockin Beats’ and the screaming blasts of noise in ‘Setting Sun’.

The genius of it all

There’s a moment part way through tonight’s show when I find myself pondering a simple question: if all the bells and whistles were removed and these guys were just two fellas playing in a club without the heft of this production, would it still be incredible?

The answer is so obviously yes. This music and the way it’s been crafted for the live arena is as good as you’ll experience from anyone. Hell, catching this is a small, sweaty club might even be more profound.

But The Chemical Brothers are a big deal, they play in big spaces, and they need to supersize the show in order for it to work. That they’re able to do that without losing the powerful weirdness that lies at the core of so much of their work is truly beautiful.

It’s Tuesday night in Brisbane, and none of us are as young as we used to be, but this show is a warm reminder that The Chemical Brothers and their fans can (and will) party with the best of them, any day of the week.

The group’s fans will be immensely satisfied with this latest tour, but honestly this is a spectacle fitting for anyone who wants to experience a world class psychedelic explosion of colour and sound.

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