LIVE REVIEW: Underworld at The Royal Albert Hall in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust

Underworld

The point when normality returned following COVID-19 is debatable but it’s impossible to deny that after an unwanted three-year hiatus, much normality returned when the Teenage Cancer Trust festival was revived in 2022 and saw outstanding performances from artists including Liam Gallagher, The Who and Madness.

More importantly, the reason for the festival, funds were raised to support teenagers experiencing cancer. It was clear from the appeal videos that despite this festival is now over two decades old, more awareness is needed to address the mental health implications and the additional challenges teenagers face when a parent or guardian is also battling cancer.

British electronic music group Underworld kicked off this amazing festival. Whilst there was much excitement and anticipation to see the Cardiff legends at this sold-out show, things did get off to a slow start. The first two songs which were new material failed to engage the crowd. Those who were standing were stoic whilst everyone else remained seated. Things instantly improved once the band played “Two Months Off”. Whilst this was a more upbeat and better-known hit, the accompanying visuals improved dramatically obliterating the darkness and smoke. Until then, the visuals failed to utilise the Royal Albert Hall’s beauty. People rewarded the light and heavier bass vibrations by beginning to dance and move.

Fearless middle age dancing reached a crescendo when “Push Upstairs” followed “Two Months Off”. Where the new material struggled to galvanise at the beginning of the set, “Denver Luna” later on connected which drew influences from The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and Urban Cookie Collective. The crowd were then in good spirits to appreciate Beaucoup Fish’s “Jumbo” which followed.

The other pinnacle moment of Underworld’s performance was when they played “Shudder / King of Snake”. The interpolation of the bassline from the Donna Summer single “I Feel Love” on “King of Snake” was the point when the crowd seemed most free and in the zone of the music without the need for party prescriptions.

Surprisingly only one song from Second Toughest in the Infants was performed despite singles such as “Pearl’s Girl” entering the Top 40. Nonetheless, the band’s most commercial hit that would eventually feature on reissues of this album “Born Slippy .NUXX” was saved for last. The irony was despite this song referencing “Romford”, a town just outside London in Essex, which is part of Greater London; the band did not play a single track from their Barking LP where each song from this album was written in Essex.

Whilst it took a while for Underworld to get the crowd going, much of this was down to the lacklustre visuals that improved as more of Underworld’s classic hits began to play. For the majority of people who had followed Underworld throughout their career, the way they would have prepared and experienced this gig along with the settings would have been antithetical to those at the Royal Albert Hall in their youth.

For the majority of people, few were making comparisons; they were simply remembering the spark Underworld’s music brought to the underground techno clubs and warehouses. Moreover, for the majority, judging by the atmosphere, these memories were mostly happy.

To donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust please visit here.

 

Xsnoize Author
Michael Barron 346 Articles
Michael first began writing whilst studying at university; reviewing the latest releases and live gigs. He has since contributed to the Fortean Times as well as other publications. Michael’s musical tastes vary from Indie to psychedelic, folk and dubstep.

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