Gig Review by Sara Reynolds / Gig Photography by Wayne Fox

Leftfield

Shock and awe!! Leftfield are playing the O2 Institute in Birmingham… what?! Really?!! For me this was a gig not to be missed. Leftfield’s 1995 release ‘Leftism’ was one of the most important soundtracks of my youth. More than any other record the heady and fascinating rhythms of Leftism, were the perfect accompaniment to a few drinks and ‘indoor boogie’ getting ready with chums for various heavy techno and psychedelic all-nighters in the heart of Birmingham and it’s more bohemian quarters.

Leftfield

Back in the day Q Magazine referred to Leftism as “the first truly complete album experience to be created by house musicians and the first quintessentially British one”. It’s a record I never tire of, multi-faceted, mysterious, and completely danceable. A truly ground-breaking, original mix of so many styles, but most notably progressive house and dub. So I dug it out the other day – still brilliant, and I’d go so far to say pure genius. So I obviously ordered the new album ‘Alternative Light Source’, and am soon on my way to see Leftfield. The original line up now disbanded – but with original member Neil Barnes still at the helm.

Leftfield

Tonight’s event is in support of said new release, and it feels quite poignant that Barnes makes this his main focus of the evening, with only the odd nod to Leftfield’s earlier studio album releases ‘Leftism’ and ‘Rhythm and Stealth’. But then Leftfield were never about looking back – true innovators just waiting for the world to catch up.

Leftfield

The crowd can undoubtedly be looking forward to some of Leftfield’s past glories, but I can see more than a few faces in the crowd already mouthing the lyrics to the new album which has a cleaner and even more mechanical sound for me – certainly we are heading somewhere new, quite a departure from those hedonistic 90s rhythm’s, but still with the odd dalliance or two into the world of dub.

Leftfield

The crowd throw themselves into every song, hands in the air. It’s a visual treat too, Barnes is partially obscured by organza screens, which reflect a light show that sets the stage aglow. One of the highlights for me is dreadlocked singer Ofei’s ‘Swords’ which he executes with a light, and dare I say pleasantly effeminate vocal, whilst dancing in a beautifully tribalistic style.

Leftfield

The night is relentlessly dancey throughout, and the crowd are completely overcome in the dance. Other highlights are ‘Africa Shox’ and ‘Phat Planet’ the song that was the soundrack to the famous surfer Guinness advert.

Leftfield

There’s an encore, which Barnes graciously obliges, but when a deserved second encore ensues, we are sadly left wanting more. Lets hope based on this, it’s not another 14 years we need to wait…

Leftfield

One Response to “Leftfield – O2 Institute Birmingham, UK – 9th October 2015”

  1. Ken Harrison Says:

    Great stuff guys, wish I was there :-)

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