Nov 25 2010 By Michael Pringle
FOLLOWING their triumphant return to Scotland's live music scene at this year's RockNess festival, Leftfield were back for two gigs in Glasgow.
The first at the ageing but effervescent Barrowland on Saturday, November 20 and the second at the revitalised former New Bdeford cinema house that is now home to the 02 Academy on the south side of the river.
Prior to their outstanding appearance at RockNess on the banks of Loch Ness in June, Leftfield had failed to perform live for a decade.
The Barras was packed to capacity as they took to the stage on Saturday, as dance acts go there aren't many who can hold a light to Neil Barnes's crew.
The electronica outfit originally a duo consisting of Barnes and drummer Paul Daley are renowned for heart pounding sets that manage to shake foundations, rip plaster from walls and crack porcelain in the toilets of venues. On this occasion Daley isn't present, he is working on other projects and his drum stool has been admirably filled by Sebastian Beresford. Saturday night was loud but I was reliably informed that they weren't using the Liveism sound desk and system at its full capacity.
Nevertheless it was a fantastic hour and three quarters of pounding, heaving dub-based house and techno - this is a live experience that everyone should, well, experience.
There's no need for alcohol or illicit substances to help you enjoy Leftfield, you just do. As I looked around the floor of the ballroom, even those in attendance who were there out of curiosity or by default struggled to stop their bodies moving and swaying to the pulsating sounds.
There are many dance acts who rely on visuals and who could be accused of being rather one dimensional by non dance fans, this is something that can't be levelled at Leftfield by any rational right minded individual. There is something for almost everyone in their music.
It's been a decade and a half since the release of their first album; Leftism but the tracks from the Mercury Music Prize shortlisted album sound as fresh now as they did back then. The album reached number three in the UK album chart and the follow-up to it; Rhythm and Stealth topped the album chart four years late in 1999.
Leftfield's attack on the senses of those present in Glasgow at the weekend started off subtly enough with Song of Life but by the time we were three songs in, and the opening beats of Original started to seep from the sub woofers, we knew we were in for something special. Afro Left followed with vocalist Djum Djum launching himself into it as the crowd reciprocated by throwing off any lingering shackles of doubt that this was the real deal.
If there was anyone who did have any remaining elements of doubt then surely they were disintegrated by the sound of Cheshire Cat belting out Inspection. Just when I thought things couldn't get any better I was reminded of the pure genius of Leftfield when the hypnotising vocals of Afirika Shox pierced the air coupled with the visual of a giant mouth behind Neil Barnes syncing the lyrics 'let's get electrified'.
By the time that Space Shanty was reaching a crescendo the crowd were like putty in the hands, and as it suddenly slammed to a halt there was no chance the sweltering participants on the dance floor were going to allow them to leave the stage for long at that point. They did come back on for another couple of tracks and finished with Phat Planet. It was a monumental night even by Barrowland standards - and the old venue has had a few over the years.
It was back for more of the same the following night at the Academy and while the crowd didn't reach the fever pitch of the previous night, the set did sound even louder and the higher ceiling of the old cinema building made the visuals that much more pleasurable.
Let's hope that it isn't another ten years before we see them again north of the border.