It's been three-and-a-half years since Underworld successfully altered my universe at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City in 1999. That evening they kidnapped my senses and passed an absolute law inside my brain, ordering me to forever listen to their music. Since they were in town, and went through all that trouble blowing my mind last time, I figured that I would pay my old friends a visit.
The line was around the block, down, and around the next block to get into the sold out Riviera Theater in Chicago's historic uptown Monday night. I had the unfortunate displeasure of standing next to an ubergeek from poserland, pretending to be a normal person. "It was totally like that when I was at Weezer...then they cancelled the rest of the Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK...and I really wanted to watch the Underworld DVD today" were some of the fragments decoded from this alien's native dork tongue.
The stage was dressed with four horizontal rows of square boxes, which were the background for the usual (or rather unusual) visuals courtesy of Tomato. Doctors Karl Hyde and Rik Smith performed their operation behind an extended "L" shaped sound board. Karl grabbed the mic, Rik hit the board, and after a quick embrace from the two mates, the procedure was underway.
"Everything Everything," "Two Months Off," "Mo Move," "Twist," "King Of Snake," and "Dark And Long" were some of the songs that rose above the hodge podge of sounds, beats, and lyrics from various Underworld anthems of the past, or ones that were made specifically last night.
While Karl continued to thrive and bounce on stage, reeling the audience in while ampin' them up, it's in the opinion of this humble reviewer, that Darren Emerson was missed from the live show. Hyde would have to run back to the board and program the next song, while strapping on his guitar, and still try to keep the momentum flowing through the song transitions. It didn't work as well as it did when Emerson was existent. Not to say that they can't still get some monkey boy in there to help program; I just want to see Karl sing, dance, energize the crowd, occasionally pluck a few chords, but I don?t want him behind that board.
Note to Governor George Ryan: BAN SMOKING FROM ALL INDOOR VENUES. Last night I lost about four months from my life from all the cigarette smoke that stuck to my lungs, clothes, and skin like a decrepit leach. Stop taking bribes and make smoking in public illegal. Once the law passes, anyone who disobeys should be castrated on sight. No questions asked.
There is something astoundingly poetic and extraordinary about Karl Hyde's jumbled stream of consciousness lyrics. Last night he had the entire (coughing) audience in his hands, as the lengthy set escalated into a pulsating climax. I was glad to hear some old songs tossed into the "mix," but the new songs prevailed last night, and they made the recordings found on Hundred Days Off sound amateur. The way Underworld reorganize and re-translate their creations on the spot is truly an amazing sight...and sound. They're talented geniuses, and I hope that they continue to elevate electronic music years into the future.
Source: Jason Anfinsen