"It can only be Underworld"
by Ed Barrett for remotegoat on 13/12/19

Nestled in the shadow of Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, the Depot at Mayfield gives little away. As impressive an industrial building as it is, Manchester has those aplenty; apart from the Warehouse Project branding, there’s no other visible hint of the alchemy it is soon to host, for Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are nothing less than musical magicians; and tonight, Matthew, they’re going to be Underworld.

As phenomenal as pretty much every act under The Warehouse Project banner is, Underworld must surely be one of the very brightest of jewels in the crown. If not for their incredible back catalogue, they might have picked purely from the many soon-to-be-classics from their Drift series, and it would still have been a great night. What is truly striking is that the half-dozen or so new tracks given an airing didn’t just hold their own, but added to the electricity. Listen To Their No is a great set opener; Soniamode an irresistible, stomping anthem; and if the original version of S T A R is more uplifting, the Rebel Tech version chosen here ensures there is no drop in momentum.

The Drift experiment of releasing a new track every week for a year has, if anything, given a new shine to the older classics, with Jumbo, Rez / Cowgirl, Juanita (and many others) sounding better than ever. I’d imagine for the boys themselves, Born Slippy might be wearing a bit thin even in it’s NUXX incarnation, but the reaction from the crowd could’ve powered the whole of Manchester for a year at least.

By the time we got to the penultimate track of the evening, Always Loved a Film, with it’s refrain of ‘Heaven – heaven – can you feel it?’, the answer was a resounding ‘Yes’. A sublime part of a sublime night.

There may be several other acts that can also send you out into the night glowing with appreciation, buzzing from the rush; but if there can’t be many – if any - who can, with a 140-minute set, leave you feeling like you’ve not only been to a festival, but the most fabulous festival of your life.

A quick mention for the sound and lighting technicians, who helped make this a truly extraordinary event. The Depot at Mayfield has a cavernous interior; to fill it with this much bass without sacrificing clarity, to illuminate it so beautifully, to use back-projection so judiciously: each is no mean feat.

I’ve seen Underworld before, and I hope to see them again. Before then, I may just have to accept that I may never see them better; for this was something truly special. It was clear it would be from very early on, when, barely ten minutes into the set, they launched into Two Months Off - a track so powerful, so euphoric, any other act would surely finish with it.

But this isn’t any other act; this is Underworld.

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