…now I kiss you dark & long…
This year is the twentieth anniversary of the release date of the incredible and formative dubnobasswithmyheadman. I'm a massive Underworld fan, in case it isn't clear from my various posts here on the subject. The band announced that there would be a special live show, one night only, to mark the release of various anniversary issues - CDs, Audio Blu-Ray, etc. etc. In London. I did not manage to log on to their site at the designated time early enough to get tickets, which apparently went in minutes.
So they announced a mini-tour for this show.
I eagerly looked, and found that they were only playing Europe for this outing- sensible, it was a short show anyway.
Fuck it. I bought a ticket for the show at the Hammersmith Apollo (er, the Eventim Apollo, now) in Hammersmith, London.
Then I bought plane tickets.
Today, I spent much of the early part of the day lazing around my hotel room digesting a heroic English breakfast before heading out and wandering around Fulham and Kensington for 4 hours or so. Following that, I came back to the hotel. I had discovered, upon checking in at my company's tiny London office on Thursday, that one of the women who works there (whom I knew up until that point as a name on an IRC server, working in support, always cheerful) was also going to the Underworld show, with her sister who was driving in.
So we met in front of the venue around 6 pm, then headed off to a pub to have a pint or two and wait for her sister. We talked quite a bit about work - it's weird working two sides of the same problem, separated by an ocean. I'm Ops, she's Support, so when things go wrong, we're both involved in different ways. After a couple of hours and two pints, we headed over to the show and met her sister. Pausing to take a pic out front to post on the corporate Google+ feed, we waved goodbye (different tickets) and headed in.
I was in a seat in the upper blocks of the Apollo. (Block 5, Row O, if you know it). I forbore getting more alcohol and settled into my seat. I was at the left end of a row of four (including me) greybeards; to my left was a young thing who was with a boy her age and very excited. She was probably in her early 20s. I love Underworld shows - the age range is fantastic. There were people at this show with their 14-15 year old kids, and couples in their 50s.
Everybody dances, though.
One sour note - Rick Smith, half of Underworld, was not present. Apparently he is very ill. But Karl Hyde, frontman, was - and Rick's programming was there, too. The show was excellent - despite being technically limited to dubno, they played for 105 minutes and included some long jam mixes, Born Slippy and Bigmouth (not from the album) and a jam encore of around 15 minutes that was pure fucking sonic and optical assault. It was exquisite.
The lighting started off incredibly minimalist - pure white only, in fans and small spots and dynamic pans. The name of each song was displayed at its start on the video wall, in typically understated Tomato manner, on a very very very crisp screen. As the show went on, new elements crept in - by the third track, there were red lights along with the white.
Next track had some walking incandescents, too.
And so on.
By the end, the encore, there was fog everywhere; a dozen different colors of effect and lasers were up, the screen itself was stuttering in pure brilliant color washes as if it was looking to troll for epileptic sufferers, and the noise was fucking incredible.
I'm old. I had a seat, this show, although I didn't (I'm proud to say) use it other than while waiting for the show to start and waiting for the venue to clear. I'm in better shape than I was last show, and I can feel it - I was dancing essentially the whole time, and I don't feel too poorly, just a bit sore from unfamiliar exertions.
During Cowgirl, the four greybeards on the end (yes, including me) started spontaneously moshing, laughing our asses off. Rows in front and behind offered backslaps and high fives. During Dark & Long, the young thing on my left grabbed me and I was the startled recipient of a 30-60 second snog. Given that, and her boy's apparent lack of care, I'm pretty sure it was MDMA-induced, which makes me jealous since I've never had any of that, but who cares - I'm a greybeard, and if a young lady wants to lipsmash me for a minute or so - in a way that clearly isn't creepy as I was surprised as hell - then welcome, honey.
At the end of the night, after we'd all swayed into each other for a couple of hours, we shook hands, slapped backs, and headed out.
Outside the venue, two very very happy (<Charlie Sheen voice>…drugs.</voice>) gents chased me down, swore that I was James Earl Jones as well as the spitting image of one of their mates' dads who is apparently named 'Badger' and wouldn't let me leave without a photo session. All good, guys.
And then, back on the Tube to Gloucester Road, a mere three stops…