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UNDERWORLD AT MAYFIELD DEPOT, MANCHESTER – LIVE REVIEW (05/12/19)

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Mayfield Depot, a true sight to behold. A vast, cold landscape in an abandoned train station just spitting distance from Manchester Piccadilly – perhaps it doesn’t sound too ideal, but it’s perfect.

Coming off the back of their latest release, Drift – an immense musical project that saw Underworld write, record and release a song every week for the full calendar year – the duo returned to Manchester for a night at The Warehouse Project’s new home. The Drift pre-show begins with Rick Smith, co-founding member of Underworld, as he gets to work warming up the audience – quite literally, it is absolutely freezing. Smith’s music soundtracks the barren land of the Depot, which is quickly filling up with people as they dance their way over to the stage.

“For us this feels like coming home,” yells Karl Hyde and of course, the whole of Manchester yells back. On the stage, Karl and Rick convey youth that is unquestionable. They perform on a stage that is bare (aside from necessary equipment) and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Opening up with ‘Listen To Their No’, a track from Drift, you would think that the crowd had just heard an old classic. Underworld’s music is timeless. Firm favourites from Dubnobasswithmyheadman, ‘Rez’ and ‘Cowgirl’ provide pure joy for those watching; bobble hats and coats have been swiftly removed as the crowd get sweatier and show no signs of slowing down.

And suddenly, Karl Hyde appears like a deity, arms wide open and those fateful chords play. Born Slippy (Nuxx). I don’t want to say it’s what we’ve all been waiting for, because their entire set was electric, but there is something about that track that gives you goosebumps and makes you want to hug your neighbour. A couple of men in front of me spent the entire song with their arms round each other, smiling ear to ear, pointing at the crowd who are all doing the same. This is exactly what I expected this show to be, but it gave me so much more. A night where music was not restricted to age or gender, just devoted to the pair who continue to live up to, and exceed, their status as one of the most important electronic acts.

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