Review + Photography by John McEvoy

Most of you will (I hope) have a musical bucket list, and I’m glad to say that The Orb have been on my list for a long time, and Saturday night in Newcastle provided another tick on this list.

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This band originally formed back in 1988 with their original members Alex Paterson and Jim Cauty, once of KLF fame. They originally set out as a sort of DJ collective whose main musical style was ambient house. However, over the years and following several personnel changes their musical output began to include elements of Trip hop, Dub, Chill out and Reggae. Their style involves uses of sampling, remixing, and their original material all supported by a visuals that run throughout the show.

This gig was all about celebrating their 30th Anniversary under the guise of a ‘Greatest Hits’ tour and is made up 6 dates in October throughout October, so this is a blink and you’d miss it opportunity.

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This was our first time at the ‘Riverside’ venue in Newcastle and I have to say that this is a great little venue, literally a stones throw away from the Tyne, and only a 10 minute walk from the city centre. Luckily we arrived at the venue literally 5 minutes before The Orb took to the stage. Unusually their set began just after 8:00pm with a strict 10:00pm curfew!

If you were expecting a little bit of audience rapport or even a ‘Hello Newcastle’ you would be disappointed. The remaining original member Alex Paterson took to the decks and for the next 90 minutes proceeded to deliver a relentless sonic assault of the senses with quite literally some of the heaviest base this reviewer has ever experienced. Whilst not forgetting their ambient roots, this set was all about their best-known tracks and they duly delivered opening with ‘Ununited States’ from their ‘No Sounds Are Out of Bounds’ album released earlier this year. Its at this point that I must confess that the playlist I captured below may not be wholly accurate as we were having such a good time dancing, so apologies if there any errors.

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Their magnificent Blue Room was delivered in their unique style which of course meant that they always ensured that whilst retaining the core of the tune, they also overlaid it with differing samples and of course a huge dance beat that got everyone moving.

Towers of Dub from their U.F. Orb album provided a solid 10 minute groove which sounded magnificent in this venue and for me was one of the many highlights of the evening. Of course The Orb are famous for their collaborations and they played a couple of tracks from their album ‘Observing the star house in Dub’ which they did with the famously eccentric and wonderful Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry who is regarded as the godfather of dub.

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Pillow fight @ Shag Mountain (A great title if ever there was) provided another of the many highlights of the night with a hypnotic groove that no one in the audience could resist, and before we knew it we were at the end of the 90 minute set and they finished with their best known track to date, ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’, which of course went down an absolute storm with the crowd.

And then with a wave that was it, Alex Paterson was gone.

Of course, as it’s The Orb there was no encore, but what a night. For this reviewer this gig will remain in the memory for a long time and provide another tick on the musical bucket list!

Set list:
Ununited States
Blue Room
Soul Planet
Easy on the Onions
Towers of Dub
Perpetual Dawn
Doughnuts forever
Wolfbane
Back side of the moon
Pillow fight @ Shag Mountain
Rush Hill Road
A huge ever growing pulsating brain
Little Fluffy Clouds

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