Electronic duo Orbital turn up the heat at 53 Degrees

Orbital at 53 Degrees, Preston
Orbital at 53 Degrees, Preston

Veteran electronic duo Orbital proved they’ve still got it when it comes to making people dance at a show in Preston at the weekend.

Tracks from the new album Wonky featured heavily in brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll’s one and a half hour set at 53 Degrees on Saturday night, which was also peppered with some of their former, 20 plus year old “rave anthems”.

It was great to hear founder of Skint Records’ Midfield General’s album Generalisation being played loud before the set as well, including one of my favourites - Reach Out - which samples Linda Lewis’s Reach For The Truth.

Orbital opened with One Big Moment, the first song from their new album Wonky.

Wonky is a “meaty” album, as best as I can describe it.

There’s some really nice unique sounds on there, and certainly a low bow to acid house, souped up for the 21st century, most notably present on Stringy Acid, which was definitely a highlight at the show.

A lot of “dance acts” have ended up tiring out the genre by producing virtually identical variations of something that used to work, but there’s none of that here. The new stuff is fresh, intelligent and strong.

Beezledub, another Wonky track, really got the party started as it breaks from a hard hitting dubstep/rock sound into a relentless drum and bass monster, and then back again. But it’s still somehow melodic.

Single Wonky, featuring Lady Leshurr, also went down a storm, but it was Orbital’s previous hits that everyone got excited about.

Appreciative smiles and air punches all round for Chime, from 1989, Belfast, and Halcyon, which all sound as good now as they did then.

They’ve weathered well.

Underworld have always been my favourite live electronic dance heavyweight, but this show also proved how important Orbital were, and still are, in pushing the boundaries of sound.

I was a bit perplexed by the seperation between the bar area and dance floor at 53 Degrees, meaning a limited freedom of movement and some hasty finishing up of drinks at times, and the volume could have been notched up a level, but all in all this was a great gig.

Despite recent concerns over trouble and anti-social behaviour in and around 53 Degrees, on this occasion I didn’t see one spot of bother and the audience was jovial, the atmosphere was celebratory and the music was excellent.