Arena shows are expensive, most of the time they fall into two camps. £50 to see the latest pop act that’s had a hit by singing the same as everyone else in the last five years about whatever Capital FM is churning out or a well established act that has become big because they are very good. The Chemical Brothers are in the latter camp, don’t need an introduction, six number one albums, six Grammy awards and pioneers in inventing a whole new genre of dance music. If you haven’t heard of them then stop reading this and go back to listening to Becky Hill or someone.
£50 is a lot of money but The Chemical Brothers are masters of the arena show, with no traditional band they have to make up for it somehow. Support came from DJ James Holroyd and as the AO Arena slowly began to fill up, it felt like the party was slowly getting started. Manchester does not need an excuse to party on a Friday night in October. The double pints were being bought, (for £14!) the lights went dark and then bang. “Go!” doesn’t really get any better for an artist to walk onto. That bassline, you know the one “dun dun dun dun dun dun” being sung by 20,000 people is an experience in itself and then we’re in.
It feels like I’m in an IMAX but the screen is 8x bigger and the sound system 10x louder. Hieroglyphs appear on the screen moving to the beat and people of all ages, races and genders are dancing, hugging strangers and just all round having a proper time of it.
The setlist continues through what is frankly a ridiculous back catalogue. Get Yourself High, Block Rockin Beats and Eve of Destruction are hard to follow but they somehow manage it. The whole place is just rocking, even everyone in the seats were stood up and mesmerised by the lights, the immersive video screens that must have taken days to set up and the cinematography. The whole night was a proper show.
Galvanise and Song to the Siren finish off the set before the encore and then hundreds of balloons fall down from the ceiling, the duo come back on, play The Darkness That You Fear and The Private Psychedelic Reel and then disappear again to rapturous applause. £50 well spent.