Live Review: Orbital, Feels

5 March 2019 | 9:38 am | Mac McNaughton

"Orbital delivered a masterclass...helping people connect to it by keeping everyone dancing."

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You’ve gotta hand it to the curators of the Perth Festival. Every time it comes around, the formula and set-up remains strikingly similar while the selection of acts seems to bring out the best in Perth and its people.

Perth’s own percussion ’n quirk-pop rising stars Feels charmed a quickly packed Chevron Gardens. Though it must be said if you held a black mirror up to Phil and Paul Hartnoll (the ageing-gracefully-techno-legend headliners), the two young percussionists dressed for a giggly slumber party, would be their anti-reflections. Their gleefully hyper-colourful beats worked a treat (think Four Tet mashed with B(if)tek), finishing on a new single, which took an unexpected diversion into conventional ‘pop’ for the first time).

Despite forming Orbital 30 years ago, their Perth Festival date was Phil and Paul Hartnoll’s first visit to Western Australia – so they had some making up to do. Professor Brian Cox’s voice coaxed some heavy thoughts as he pondered questions of life, existence and mankind’s longevity. “We will die," looped. With the Hartnolls commanding in their trademark head torches, and blood-red visuals, mashing a remixed There Will Come A Time with Monsters Exist created an absolutely furious 15-minute doom-laden apocholyp-techno explosion. The crowd lapped it all up as if it was their biggest hit. The refrain of, “A cry for survival,” from Impact (The Earth Is Burning) fit the eco-message beautifully, tying ‘the new stuff’ to their ravey origins as the set moved through more newer cuts than old. We could list dozens of notable omissions – not one note was played from their 1994 to 2010 period during which they released five albums – but the Hartnolls pulled it off.

The acid-daydream of Halcyon + On + On (complete with both Belinda Carlisle and Bon Jovi stabs) added to the euphoria, however, it was with the metal fury of 1991 single Satan that captured the mood of Australia brilliantly, complete with a barrage of images of convicted pedophile Cardinal George Pell that was precisely on point. Coming back with the rapturous Chime and finishing on the speed demon that is Where Is It Going? (from Wonky), Orbital delivered a masterclass on staying loyal to a somewhat underwhelmingly received new album, helping people connect to it by keeping everyone dancing.  

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