LIVE REVIEW: Leftfield @ Times Square (28.7.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Carl Chambers

Newcastle based gig promoters SSD Concerts have bagged some absolute corkers for their annual ‘Live from Times Square’ gigs this year. The likes of Brian Wilson, The Manic Street Preachers and The Libertines are all set to play their part in the hotly anticipated double weekender. Second up on the jam-packed bill, on a slightly soggy Friday night, are 90s electronic\dance pioneers Leftfield.

With 1993’s acclaimed debut album Leftism, the group changed the face of a genre, blending reggae, punk and techno into one eclectic master-stroke. After 22 years, the album has only aged like a very fine wine, so tonight feels like a particularly emotional farewell to its proper live existence. Support comes from Newcastle DJ double act People Get Real, who fill the early slot with lively disco beats, making way for Veteran Canadian DJ Tiga. His previous night in Ibiza was probably a lot more eventful than the slightly uninterested Times Square crowd who are still grabbing pints from the bar. Not to worry though, Tiga soldiers on through re-mixed set of relatively unfamiliar (apart from that Human League sample) tunes, although some are left disappointed when none of his own hits ie. Bugatti make the cut.

It’s not an ideal kick-off for Leftfield, who are handed the tough task of reeling in the punters by their rain-splashed hoods. Luckily, the duos pulsating entrance manages to do the job (featuring jigsaw visuals of Leftism’s iconic album cover), before slowly unveiling their first tune Release The Pressure. Everyone already acquainted with Leftism, knows what’s coming, but they don’t know just how good it will be. The sound blasts through the speakers as the group slide effortlessly from the tribal claps of Afro Left to the chillout soundscapes of Song of Life. You can tell they’ve played these songs before. Guest vocalists come and go throughout the show, each bringing a wonderfully diverse set of talents. Each track reminds why this album was so influential in those halcyon days. Inspection (Check One) and Open Up are still major tunes in a live setting, pumping energy into the increasingly ecstatic crowd. Parting ways on 21st Century Poem shouldn’t work at all for a gig as big as this, but as the dramatic ambience subsides, it seems like a pretty apt ending to an emotional send-off.

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