UNDERWORLD, it is pleasing to report, were not perfect. No live band

ever is: spontaneity curtails note-for-note renditions of the last

album. Although this is a truism in the world of indie-guitar rock,

Underworld inhabit the dance arena where a Personal Appearance is too

often an excuse for simple miming over a pre-recorded Digital Audio


So Underworld, who really do use their machines as instruments, fouled

up a few times in their immense three and a half hours on stage. But

only pedants cringed at the occasionally bumpy arrival of a new rhythm

into the already bulging mix.

Rhythm is what they do best. Karl Hyde chants rhythmic vocals live on

stage. These are captured in the sampling machines of Rick Smith, who

loops and manipulates them into the sinously chugging syncopated base

beats created by Darren Emerson. They disappear, only to re-emerge half

an hour later in mutated form: a fondly remembered motif to bring the

happily bouncing audience back to the semblance of reality.

While such self-indulgence would rightly be derided as aimless waffle

in a guitar band, Underworld turn it into a virtue on the dancefloor.

This is techno as she should be sung. With every style of the techno

canon available to them, and augmented by DJ Darren Price wielding his

killer beats from behind the turntables, Underworld are an act which has

evaded the backwater known as Detroit minimalism.

Acid, house and even psychadelic guitar melded together as Smith and

Emerson, grinning to each other from behind their machines, decided

which song or sound to titivate with next. Yet beyond the keenly crafted

dancefloor experience, this was a performance bursting with humour,

passion and, above all, creativity.