Review: The Chemical Brothers at Glastonbury — No live show, no problem - Features - Mixmag

Review: The Chemical Brothers at Glastonbury — No live show, no problem

The UK's finest live electronic act lit up the Arcadia stage with an energising DJ set, showcasing new material and dance anthems

  • Words: Louis Anderson-Rich | Photos: Charlie Raven
  • 29 June 2023

As far as festival dance music is concerned, The Chemical Brothers might just be the best to ever do it. The duo have rolled out their live show at Glastonbury six times, including a record-setting five times on the Other Stage. And they keep getting better: 2019 may have been their finest outing yet.

So anticipation was high when news came of a DJ set on Arcadia’s giant, flaming spider at last year’s edition. But a last minute bout of COVID for Ed Simons meant fans never got to see what the Brothers would be pulling out of the record bag.

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Thankfully the flames only had to wait a year and as Ed and Tom strode up into the underbelly of everybody’s favourite recycled arachnid (now powered by renewable biofuel!) before hitting play on one of dance music’s most memorable riffs in ‘Your Love’, it was clear one of Friday night’s biggest crowds was in for something special.

From the opener came ‘Go’ and a sign they’d still be sprinkling in some familiar favourites into the set, but it was mostly an opportunity for the pair to showcase their own new music and what they listen to when not twisting the knobs off their Roland SH-101 or doing degrees at the University of Manchester.

Maxime Alexander’s ‘Take My Hands’ with its bubbling, evolving bassline and distorted 707 sounded like it could have been straight from the ‘Dig Your Own Hole’ era while Mark Broom’s ‘Let’s Roll’ was a stomping slice of minimalistic techno, an influence it was interesting to see the Chems incorporate but one they obviously wear on their sleeves, along with the dusty sounds of breaks and fidgeting squeaks of techno.

Perhaps the two biggest responses were to two new tracks from the forthcoming album in Autumn, which, if they’re anything to go by, will be their best and most contemporary work since ‘Surrender’. ‘No Reason’ and ‘All Of A Sudden’ both sounded enormous on the Arcadia system and hint at an album that will be as attuned to today’s dance music as it is a Chemical Brothers record.

Bring on the live shows later this year, and get them to DJ the afters too.

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