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Flash... Lights...

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Rigsy | 15:33 UK time, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

I'm a dopey big child, as some of you may know, so it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that I am easily entertained by bright colours and big flashy things.

Hence my recent declaration that The Chemical Brothers are the greatest live act on the planet. Exhibit A for the defence...

I love going to watch the Chemical Brothers. Noisy rave, huge screens with mad, creepy, silly pictures and spangly lights that explode all over your brain - seriously - what's not to like?!

Every few months on a local forum I spend far too much time on, I'll get into a row about the supposed validity of the Chemical Brothers live show. Other posters are hung up on the lack of actual performance/musianship on the night, on Tom and Ed's part. They'll also argue that the shows are too similar, that those visuals don't change from night to night.

Not only is that misleading, it's also totally irrelevant in my book. I've watched the Chemical Brothers around twenty times, and while certain visual loops and motifs have been in their sets for years, each time I've seen them has been equally wonderful for various different reasons - maybe location, the atmosphere or who I'm with.

When you're experiencing an audio-visual treat like this, those things all become extra important.

Then there's Daft Punk. Seriously like, watch this...

Their pyramid, which they toured in 2006 and 2007, was officially declared the HQ for fun, aka 'Craic Central', by me, just now. I actually went to California on an errand to see this pyramid in 2006, having been told they would perform in it just seven times, only for them to eventually bring it to Ireland. Twice. D'oh!

I don't care if they're debating between Times New Roman and Futura for the short novella they're going to write during 'One More Time'. I don't even care if it's the two guys who work in their patisserie round the corner from Thomas Bangalter's house and the real Daft Punk are at home watching Fraiser - as far as I'm concerned their hard work is done, putting together such an incredible spectacle to take on the road.

Of course, it's not just rave that brings flashing lights. Going back to a discussion about Pink Floyd and the likes is a different blog, but I will say the whole inspiration for this was watching Snow Patrol in Belfast last Thursday.

snowpatrol_lightningstrike1.jpg

For me, no rock act will ever put on a light show like the Chems or Daft Punk. But as far as 'proper' bands are concerned, the lights and visuals at the Odyssey last Thursday night were about the best I've ever seen.

snowpatrol_lightningstrike2.jpg

For most of the show, the visuals were just heavily treated images of the band, captured by seemingly hidden cameras around the stage. The screens would move and change shape and the style of how the band were portrayed would change to match the mood of a song. Apparently the guy doing this all is just off the REM tour and has previously worked with Depeche Mode. I can only imagine how much this would have cost, but I'm thinking for the whole tour, with all the camera men and stuff - seven figures, anyway. Worth every penny, as well.

The encore though, that's when the whole thing came to life. Gary & co were suddenly behind a huge screen, which had eaten the entire stage, right up to the roof. For 'The Lightning Strike' suite at the end of the album, what was essentially a short film was screened - an origami adventure, through galaxies, then across land and sea. If you were there, that will make sense - if you weren't - well trust me, it was a beautiful sight to behold. And it was coupled with the music beautifully. I'm currently on the hunt for photos to add to this blog, needless to say. Here's some mobile phone footage in the meantime.

Crucially, it didn't steal the bands thunder. The fact Snow Patrol now play like a band who utterly belong on an arena stage and Gary's voice is remarkably strong, alongside the fact every second song seemed to be qualify as 'massive anthem' - that's what most will remember about this gig, and rightly so.

But for me, the bands coming of age will be remembered alongside that wide eyed childish feeling and a dopey big grin as I watched those lovely colours and sparkly, flashing lights.

Thanks to:
Daft Punk pics - Michael Lee
Chemical Brothers pics - Matt from Bodytonic
Snow Patrol pics - Stephen Lynn
Snow Patrol Belfast pic - Christopher Byrne

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