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Words by Elizabeth Sharpe | @ummagummamumma

Photography by Paul Blackburn @wysiwyg.pix

Titans in the realm of electronic music, The Chemical Brothers have made their way to Australian shores for their block-rockin’, whirlwind 3-date visit to Australia’s East Coast.  Their name, synonymous with innovation and sonic experimentation – this was always promising to be a treat for the senses. The dynamic duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, The Chemical Brothers burst onto the scene in the early 1990s, amidst the burgeoning rave culture of Manchester, England. With their groundbreaking fusion of dance, rock, and psychedelia, they reshaped the landscape of electronic music, earning widespread acclaim and a devoted global following.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else tonight.

It certainly doesn’t feel like a Tuesday night – I know more than a few smart people who’ve booked in some annual leave for the next day or two at least to allow for the comedown from the high we’re all about to experience. As Riverstage gets flooded with bodies, it’s hard not to notice one thing – this is one of the most age diverse concert crowds I’ve ever stood amongst.  Ranging from early 20’s to late 50’s – this music has the broadest reach.  It’s clear that some came to rave, with loads of glow sticks and LED-lit costumes.

Warming the crowd up tonight are James Holroyd and Anna Lunoe – each doing an outstanding job of getting us all well and truly pumped and in the mood. By the end of Holroyd’s second set, Riverstage has filled up with punters fired up and ready for a cheeky mid-week party.

Finally, it’s time. The pulsating beats are starting, and (for the next 2 hours at least) they aren’t stopping! There is standing room only tonight, or should I say, dancing room only – not one person could sit down for this. That’s not what we all came for! 

A neon blue animated mask appears on the screen, speaking to us through the lyrics of Go, which is followed by what feels like a seamless and effortless mash-up of Do It Again and Get Yourself High. Essentially, three songs down and my facial expressions are flipping between my jaw literally dropping at the visuals, and my face beaming in complete and utter joy, knowing there’s still so many bangers to come!

Atmospheric clouds of stage smoke are constantly blasting from the white sound desk tent midway up the Riverstage grounds, and settle over the crowd dancing below nearer the stage. Those clouds are giving the beams of laser lights seemingly solid paths, almost all the way up through the amphitheatre.

Right from the get-go this is a full-scale audio-visual experience.  A spectacle.  A kaleidoscope of sound and light.  How in the hell am I not wearing 3D glasses but these figures on the screen keep looking like they are jumping directly at me – this is some sort of genius magic from the visuals department and the brains of the Chem Bros.  It’s a mind-blowing fusion of music and technology like you have never seen before.

We can barely make out the two human figures on the stage … “mystery men” my friend beside me says.  Occasionally they throw their hands up, willing the fans, who really need no further encouragement, to get hyped for the next drop! Hey Boys, Hey Girls has everyone chanting, “Here we go!” and the animated figures on the screen seem to be falling forward off and into the crowd and then performing high bar gymnast moves, swinging through the air in perfect synchronicity with the music. According to my mate, they could play this one all night long, and he’d be happy … I tend to agree.  

After some more wicked tracks like The Eve Of Destruction, Feels Like I Am Dreaming, and Swoon, we return to a black screen and the same animated mask from the start of the show is back, but this time it’s red – possibly signifying a new chapter, the second half of the set.

And holy shit… get hyped up, this is a big one! It’s time to push the button! The time has come to Galvanise! I can’t even express what it’s like to see this track performed live, everything just hits harder and I swear I’m hearing elements that just don’t peak for me when listening to the regular digital version at home.  Not to mention the camaraderie and the connection in the crowd – how good does it feel to scream out those lyrics with over 9500 other people?! But wait… these 2 giant robots have just suddenly appeared on each side of the stage, literally out of nowhere – with old-school televisions for stomachs and smoke bellowing out of where their ears should be… and before we know it, they’re gone – more crazy magic! (Or maybe I was too busy dancing?)

The beats are building up for what we all feel could be the biggest drop of the night, and up on the screen, it reads, HOLD TIGHT BRISBANE”.  Block Rockin’ Beats is blasted out into the Brisbane night sky.

The duo depart the stage for a well-earned short break … synths start firing off and the crowd cheers in lieu of the encore.  “If you ever change your mind about leaving it all behind, remember…” No Geography is the first track of the encore and if you were thinking about leaving to avoid the mass exodus, from the venue, shame on you! You’d best have turned around to not miss this!

The encore closes out with The Darkness That You Fear and The Private Psychedelic Reel. Perfection. My mind is blown. This night in Brisbane, The Chemical Brothers have once again proved why it is that they are renowned for being pioneers of the electronic music scene, inspiring countless artists, shaping the sound of generations to come, and have more than earned that special spot in our hearts and our record collections. This is one hell of a must-see show.

Thanks to Frontier Touring

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