Saturday, September 8, 2007

Underworld At The Warfield: Is It 1997? Thankfully, No.

Last night at the Warfield, I quickly became concerned that Underworld's first US appearance on their current tour might be less of a defining experience, and more of a nostalgia trip. Upon arrival, opener Paul Oakenfold's distinctly 90's beats were filling the air. It wasn't that the set was bad per se, but it lacked punch: Oakenfold failed to draw in the crowd, and many of his beats and samples were dated in an indescribable "nineties" way. His set ended at around 10, and the crowd gave him a polite cheer. This did not seem like a good way to start the night.

Underworld came on stage at around 10:30, and the beginning of the set furthered my fears from the Oakenfold set: the crowd seemed mellow, and the band lacked punch. The Underworld sound was there, the lighting was killer, and front-man Karl Hyde certainly seemed motivated, but the crowd was largely quiet.

The band played one or two songs that were unknown to me, and presumably off of the forthcoming Oblivion With Bells. Hearing a band play new, unknown, songs left me with the fear that maybe Underworld was in the states touring purely on the strength of their 90's releases.

Then about 20 minutes in, the band hit their stride. Hyde entered into the seminal "Cowgirl" and the crowd went apeshit. It was fantastic: in a mere 2 minutes, the Warfield transformed from a mellow group of 30 somethings on a nineties nostalgia trip, into an auditorium of crazed music fans. The quality of the show only increased from there: A killer "King Of Snake", and the set closing with a monster "Born Slippy NUXX".

The band came back out for an encore, and at the end of the set seemed truly overjoyed at the crowd's reaction, which was beyond enthusiastic. It's probably the loudest cheers I've heard at the Warfield, period. Smiling and tired, Karl Hyde thanked San Francisco, and we thanked him right back.

Underworld plays at the Warfield again tonight.

More photos at the h.a.d. flickr feed.


Daniel said...

personally, I think the crowd went apeshit when Karl sang "Here comes Christ on crutches" during Dirty Epic

Guy said...

hi... the first track they played was Luetin off their 'A Hundred Days off album'... so not particulalry new or unknown ;)

I think you make have mistaken a rather lengthy fill after the second track of the night (and that was a new track) Crocodile and before Cowgirl/Rez as a planned thing... unfortunately first night gremlins looked to be at play with the sound engineers trying several times to sort our Karl's head set / monitors... thankfully it all got sorted in the end and Cowgirl/Rez was welcomed with open arms...

I had a great night, even enjoyed a few Oakenfold tracks, so lighten up ;) Although had he done something like he did on the Bunkka tour with some live musicians to add to some of his album tracks might have been something more special...

I left happy and with a big smile on my face...


deepstructure said...

we flew up from l.a. to attend saturday night's concert. i have to say im mostly in agreement with your review. our crowd responded more to 'crocodile' (which i personally love) and went completely nuts for 'cowgirl,' which was fucking brilliant and absolutely the high-point of the night.

from there it was a mixed bag. im not a huge fan of 'born slippy' but i don't think the crowd was ever as into it as 'cowgirl.' they encored with 'jumbo' which was excellent. i wish wish wish they'd done 'dark train,' but ya can't have it all i guess. :)

still, excellent to see them again and can't wait for the new album.