On their ‘Optical Delusion’ tour following this year’s release of their superb studio album of the same name, Orbital performed a two-hour set of new and classic material accompanied by mind blowing choreographed lighting and visuals. Phil and Paul Hartnoll started with the single, ‘Smiley’, released last year on their ’30 Something’ compilation, before their new second single ‘Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song)’ ft. Mediaeval Baebes, which was introduced by a ‘Ringa Ringa Roses’ sample echoing the nursery rhyme sang throughout; unfortunately the vocals were lost amongst the jiving techno beats.

At the end of ‘Where Is It Going?’, the pyrotechnical drill sound, red lighting and warning signs merged into the duo’s first new album single, ‘Dirty Rat’ ft. Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods; with its grumbling bass it was more of a dance mix than the recorded version, complete with rodential visuals developed from the official video. They moved onto further tracks from the new album, with the drum and bass vs synth trance of ‘Requiem for the Pre-Apocalypse’ and ‘You Are The Frequency’, and played ‘Home’ ft. Anna B Savage; again the thickly laid techno mix clashed with the vocals.

The brothers performed their third album single, ‘Are You Alive?’ ft. Penelope Isles, with less techno than its recorded version until the reverberating second part of the track, which also saw the lyrics being re-sung in a foreign language. Orbital played one further new track as they ended their main set: the purposefully mundane trudge of ‘The New Abnormal’ with its conspiratorial electronics weaving through. They finished on their most popular tracks, ‘Belfast’, ‘Chime’ and ‘Impact (The Earth Is Burning)’, and returned for a generously long encore, featuring the springy keys of ‘Out There Somewhere’ in Part 1 and the strings of Part 2.

01/04/23: Orbital @ Eventim Apollo, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.