Smooth moves

Underworld and John Digweed, Bank of America Pavilion, September 15, 2007
By MICHAEL FREEDBERG  |  September 18, 2007
MORE GLAM THAN RAVE: With Underworld, you heard not the trees, but the whole the forest.

Slideshow: Underworld and John Digwood at Bank of America Pavilion, September 15, 2007
It was strange to see Bank of America Pavilion only one-quarter full for last Saturday’s Underworld/John Digweed concert. True, the night was chill and raw, but the music was bright and light, and dark and dry, complex but not complicated. And it was bipolar, too. The now 50-year old Karl Hyde of Underworld vocalized (and slid his way across the stage as smoothly as any white guy I’ve seen), his smooves energized by the electronic figurines of Rick Smith and the DJ mixes of Darren Price. Occasionally Hyde added a guitar to his repertoire of moves and sounds; that and his gold sequined jacket made him look like Elton John posing as Elvis Costello. Or like Holly Johnson, of Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Playing the now infamous “Born Slippy .NUXX” and “Pearl’s Girl,” along with “Crocodile” (from the soon-to-be-released Oblivion with Bells, their fifth studio CD), Underworld sounded like (and frequently quoted snippets from) Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, the Cure, Erasure, New Order, the Neon Judgment, and, yes, Frankie. In short, they showed themselves to be more of a glam band than a rave unit despite the presence of a DJ and the absence of a drummer and a bass player. And the sum of their quotes is a sound so lush, with so much swing between Hyde’s froggy, Blood Sweat & Tears vocals and the electronic atmospherics of Price and Smith, that one heard not the individual trees but the entire forest. If their music remains rooted in 1985-’95, it also sums up the entire glam ideal — exemplified by Hyde, an art-school kid from Wales — that a poor boy can talk the talk, and walk the walk, of a rich man’s world.

The music of Underworld is almost supremely funkless. Not so that of Australian superstar DJ John Digweed, whose dry, crinkly electro-techno opening set had hips swaying and arms bobbing to his funky beats and seamless mixes.

Related: Fleeting sounds, Dance marathon, Noise patrol, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Electronic Music,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   DONNA SUMMER, 1948-2012  |  May 22, 2012
    Donna Summer, Dorchester born and always Boston-loyal, died last week, reportedly of lung cancer.
  •   DANCE MARATHON  |  March 04, 2008
    A full brigade of House Nation citizens turned out for Victor Calderone’s marathon spin session at Therapy last Saturday.
  •   HOUSE HEADS  |  February 19, 2008
    The lounge at 33 Restaurant & Lounge on Stanhope Street in the Back Bay may just have Boston’s tiniest dance floor. The upstairs restaurant isn’t much bigger.
  •   SANDER KLEINENBERG  |  January 22, 2008
    Kleinenberg’s 28 selections were made by names not well known — the classic strategy by which a DJ projects his own sound, one unmistakable for anyone else’s.
  •   FLOWER POWER  |  January 14, 2008
    As I write this, I’m listening to the newest Jeanne Mas CD, The Missing Flowers .

 See all articles by: MICHAEL FREEDBERG