Underworld is an iconic electronica band that has been performing and recording since 1987. The principal members of the band, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, have been the core of the group from the start. In their current iteration they are joined by Darren Price, a talented DJ and producer. Underworld has had tremendous success following their work on the Trainspotting soundtrack and they are one of the biggest electronica acts in the world.
On the final leg on their North American tour, Underworld paid a visit to the fabled Metropolis club in Montreal, Canada. I was able to attend the show and as I walked in I could tell it would be a great night. The opening act, DJ Damian Lazarus, was playing to a nearly packed crowd and more people were entering by the minute. I decided to live Twitter the event as well; there are not as many updates as I would like, as I had trouble stopping dancing long enough to type.
DJ Damian Lazarus is a very accomplished act and he was turning out amazing tunes mixed with light vocals by him. He was very much into the music and the crowd was right there with him. Clapping his hands, constantly moving (pictures were tough to get) and mixing like a madman, Lazarus was a great way to start the night off. He was a little more trance then Underworld so the energy was good, but not enough to make people move non-stop.
Underworld entered the stage at about 9:15 with the crowd cheering with abandon. Metropolis is a fairly large venue and it was full to the point that elbows were required to move anywhere close to the stage. The band started strong with Karl Hyde running out onto the stage and dancing up a storm while the other boys started mixing tracks and wowing the crowd.
The crowd itself was a nice mix of all ages and types. Everyone was there for a love of Underworld's music and their energy and enthusiasm for the bad was readily apparent. Every where I looked people were smiling, singing, and moving to the tight sounds being produced by the boys on stage.
It is almost nice that Underworld does not have a new album out at the moment as they were able to move through their well known songs with skill and practice. Songs like "King of Snake," "Parc," "Cowgirl," and "Moaner" were performed like magic and the crowd ate it up like candy. As the night wore on people were constantly dancing, sweat was flowing, and everyone was in the moment.
Most impressive is Karl Hyde. At 52, he has the energy of a much younger man. He was constantly dancing with unbridled energy, playing guitar on select numbers, and singing his stream-of-thought lyrics perfectly while maintaining a connection with the audience. During their iconic track, "Born Slippy," a dozen giant white balloons were released into the audience and Hyde belted out his portion of the song while the crowd danced, bounced the balloons, and sang along.
Hyde is definitely the front man, but that should not take away from long time partner Rick Smith and bandmate Darren Price. They stayed within reach of their large array of equipment and contented themselves with mixing the music perfectly and creating a perfect vibe for the audience and Hyde to feed off of. These are some incredibly talented artists who mix and shape music effortlessly.
The lighting and backgrounds were very effective. Constantly changing light sources bathing the band in blues, reds or yellows mixed well with the video sources and superimposed images of the group as they performed. It was a well produced show that further enhanced the mood.
Underworld is a fantastic band, mixing electronica sounds with dynamic vocals and instrumental work. Their body of work is impressive, having spanned over two decades, eight studio albums, and many live releases. They are one of the most entertaining and high energy acts I have experienced. Their show in Montreal pulled me back into their music and I count it as one of the best live shows I have seen to date.
Underworld may have just finished their current tour, but they have just released their entire catalog on iTunes. If you have not experienced this great act, now is the time to check them out.