Underworld are a true one-off – at home headlining the world’s biggest festivals and events, playing underground techno clubs and warehouses, sound-tracking theatre productions or taking over art galleries, disused shoe shops and Japanese department stores.
Having cemented their place in the ’90s underground techno scene, the group’s definitive breakthrough came in 1996 when their timeless anthem ‘Born Slippy (Nuxx)’ became the soundtrack of a generation after it was featured in the film Trainspotting. The success of that single catapulted the band from the underground into the heart of the mainstream. The following two decades saw them build on that success while never compromising; selling millions of albums, performing countless sold-out shows, providing scores to productions by Academy Award winning directors Anthony Minghella and Danny Boyle, exhibiting in galleries, and sound-tracking the Opening Ceremony to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The critical and commercial success of the band’s Grammy nominated 2016 album ‘Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future’ saw them headline stages at Coachella, Glastonbury and Summer Sonic.
Sometimes you just need that big-crowd, hands-in-the-air, euphoric madness you can only get in a field with ten thousand other people. Underworld delivered that with notable aplomb!
Barring travelling at speeds significant enough to invoke special relativistic effects, time marches on steadily. They now look like maths teachers. Sorry guys, you’d be the cool teachers I’m sure. It’s noticeable, but that’s all.
In the grand scheme of things, it hardly matters. The music may be from the nineties, but it’s complex and technical enough to bear this sort of volume. Everyone just wants the same thing; we want to put our hands up and jump up and down. And we do. This is like therapy. Or, as Faithless pointed out back in Underworld’s heyday, like church.
Sweating teenagers emerge exhausted from the front, seeking cold water and air at the back, and we shuffle forward to replace them.
The two guys on stage are doing everything right. They’re giving us exactly what we want, but I think the magic here is a collective one. We are creating this ourselves, all together. We have a sort of picture in our mind, and with a light show like this and some lovely repetitive beats, we can pretty much make it real.
Clever old us!