Night of the big speakers

IT WAS billed as "A night in of the big speakers", and that's exactly what Neil Barnes and Paul Daley provided at the Point last…

IT WAS billed as "A night in of the big speakers", and that's exactly what Neil Barnes and Paul Daley provided at the Point last Saturday night, when they brought their head charging Liveism show to Dublin's teeming techno masses.

Leftfield are part of the latest crop of UK arena dance acts, but, unlike The Prodigy or The Orb before them, Barnes and Daley steer clear of the double edged extremes of metallo madness and ambient noodling. Instead, Leftfield steer a beat(en) path well beyond the obvious constraints, playing what they feel like playing, and not what some pre-programmed public expectation dictates.

Thus, during a set which lasts well into the small hours, Daley and Barnes were able to delight and surprise the docklands crowd with a few well taken turns, and a couple of unexpected diversions.

The big speakers were booming from early in the evening, with Irish techno band dEcal and Brit house team Fluke warming up the crowd and putting some humidity in the air. The Chemical Brothers got things revving up with some extremely riffy techno, the duo of Tim Rowlands and Ed Simmons going for some dirty, psychedelic sounds, while a projected backdrop made the stage look like a spiked up Zooropa. The pair ended by putting the crashing, tumbling samples of The Beatles' Tomorrow Never Knows over some seriously out there beats while the screen flashed the immortal words "Love is all".


But that was not all as Leftfield emerged to a throbbing sub bass boom, and began to kick into some stoned out dub sounds, the MC chanting "Dublin!" like a hippie mantra, and Barnes banging the congas with heady abandon. Then, however, things seemed to break down a bit, and the MC found himself filling in the gap with some ragga rapping while Daley tried to keep a beat going on the drumkit.

"Give us the power!" implored the MC, and when the power finally returned Left field knew exactly what to do with it. The duo changed tack swiftly and smartly, bearing into some well defined techno beats, but not letting themselves get too carried away by the waves. The keyboards twisted and bent in the breeze, while the drums kept the rhythms sounding organic and smooth. Just when you'd think the band were going to lose the run of themselves, however, Left field would mellow things out again just enough to keep you on the edge.

A spacey, Kraftwerk meets synthpop segment took the edge off slightly, but soon a burst of drum `a' bass brought us sharply up, preparing is for a final, sustained explosion of machine gun beats. This time round, Leftfield deftly surfed wave after crashing wave, and when they finally came to shore in a swirl of ambience, they left some very satisfied heads swimming.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist