Review: Leftfield In London
Since rebooting the Leftfield name (this isn't a reformation as only Neil Barnes is involved), they've released a decent enough album, 2015’s Alternative Light Source, while 2017 has seen them celebrate the twenty second anniversary of their classic album Leftism. Over time it's proved to be a powerful and influential piece of work so important to British dance music, which comfortably sits alongside Underworld's Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Exit Planet Dust by The Chemical Brothers, Orbital's Brown Album and Prodigy's Songs For The Jilted Generation, and probably proves itself to be the most influential of the lot seeing how it was one of the first electronic long players to incorporate many featured artists, something which today is a marketing ploy to maximize unit selling/streaming potential by major record labels who cram so many artists onto one track that the buyer doesn't even know which artist they're buying it for.
Alongside their excellent repackaging of said album as Leftism 22 which includes a CD of up to date remixes from the likes of Skream, Jackmaster, Ben Sims and Maafi, t’s a natural conclusion to tour the hell out of the occasion, hence this gig.
The audience of rave dads, uncles, aunties and mums in attendances indicates that London babysitters made an absolute killing tonight. The first sound from the stage is a simple bass note which increases in its boom, such a simple act results in a sold out crowd losing their shit to it, this is gonna be pretty easy for the guys.
As the dub heavy “Release The Pressure” kicks in, a subdued opener seems to be on the cards until they let rip with a devastating 4/4 added to it to make it pound harder than anything you've heard. The same trick I'd repeated with afro-technosisms of “Afro Left”, bass and beats shuddering the ancient walls or the academy to satisfying effect.
As the gig continues it’s clear how Leftism is such an influential piece of work, released right at the height of Britpop, this was a British album that rejected the influences of most British acts at the time, its eclecticism in regards to genre was also something which hadn’t really been investigated by electronic acts up to that point either, be it pop, techno, trance, house, jungle, dub, ambient, or breakbeats, these styles were casually melted together with a particularly British punk ‘fuck you’ attitude. The dreamy “Melt” and its accompanying brain-frazzling visuals remind us how it’s one of the best ambient tracks of all time, while “Song Of Life” and “Storm 3000” are the direct opposite of “Melt”, hard, angry and danceable as hell.
Some elements didn't work so well. The brooding gothic danger Curve lead vocalist Toni Halliday brought to “Original” isn’t replicated by the guest vocalist here, and the John Lydon featuring “Open Up” doesn’t feature him in person, but on a video wall, the power of such a track lost, especially with the pointless addition of bongos.
But these are minor gripes, this is a celebration of one of the greatest electronic albums of our lifetime, so when the techno pounding of “Space Shanty” or the twisted future funk of “Inspection” kick in (both twisted and extended beyond their original length), the only thing to do is submit to their charms, and even though we've danced to these tracks a trazillion time, as proved tonight, and will be proved at the 30th, 40th anniversary of these tracks, it never gets boring. We may be gone, or certainly too old a shake a leg like we’re still twenty two ourselves then, but the people who’ll discover this album in the future have one hell of a listen ahead of them.
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