Adelaide Fringe Review: Orbital + Severed Heads – RCC, Maths Lawns (03.02.19)

This year, the RCC in the Adelaide University has presented a bold and diverse range of acts for the Fringe and one of those has to be the combination of two iconic electronic musical acts, Orbital and Severed Heads.

Held outdoors on the Maths Lawns, Severed Heads opened with an easy collection of beats and visuals. Gradually the tempo of the music and complexity of the visuals increased to create a mesmerising experience. The imagery seemed to evolve and have a life of it’s own while the music ebbed and flowed in ever changing beats and loops.

During the favorite “Petrol”, Tom Ellard invited the crowd for an impromptu  sing-a-long. This was a truly satisfying and enjoyable set.

After a short break, brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll of Orbital appeared on the sparse stage in a blaze of lights, dressed as giant cockroaches, in a way. After a short intro, the duo launched into “Monsters Exist” from their latest album of the same name; with dark and vivid imagery to complete the impressive lighting display.

Professor Brian Cox features on “There Will Come a Time”, with thoughts of the end of time and the collapse of our universe. The marriage of science and the arts help us discover a deep truth: “The universe will spend an eternity in darkness” which is not a particularly uplifting thought, yet is presented in a beautiful way.

“Impact (The Earth is Burning)” completes the trilogy of post-apocalyptic themes before the lighter “P.H.U.K.”, “Wonky” and “Tiny Foldable Cities” bring the mood back to a more dance-orientated vibe.

As this was the final show of a recent tour there were shout outs to the hardworking crew and a sincere tribute to Severed Heads also who were mentioned as being an influence on Orbital. Hardly any more encouragement was needed, but having a strong cockney accent telling the audience that the more they dance the more music they will play was an amusing aside.

“Satan” was accompanied by imagery of George Pell, demonstrating the contemporary nature of the band. There was a good overall range of songs from old and new, with “Hoo Hoo Ha Ha” and “Vision OnE” from Monsters Exist, and Halycon and Belfast from the backlist.

A Doctor Who cover was a surprising addition to the four song encore which also included “Chime” and “Where is it Going”; finishing with “Lush” to wrap up a warm and endearing night of electronic music.

With an incredible array of acts on offer at this year’s Fringe it was a credit that a full crowd were able to experience this show.


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