The Chemical Brothers review: Here’s what I thought of the iconic electronic duo’s triumphant return to Leeds

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The legendary dance duo brought block-rockin' beats to Leeds with their For That Beautiful Feeling tour.

I can think of few better ways to spend a Saturday evening than dancing the night away to the amazing sounds and visuals of The Chemical Brothers, arguably one of the most important and iconic acts to ever come out of the electronic music scene.

Returning to Leeds for the first time in four years supporting their latest album, For That Beautiful Feeling, the Manchester duo was introduced to the stage by a large digital face announcing that “Behold… They’re coming back” before kicking the music off with 2015 hit Go, accompanied by large dancers on strings on the screens behind them.

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The Chemical Brothers returned to Leeds First Direct Arena for the first time in four years. Picture by National WorldThe Chemical Brothers returned to Leeds First Direct Arena for the first time in four years. Picture by National World
The Chemical Brothers returned to Leeds First Direct Arena for the first time in four years. Picture by National World | National World

It did not take long for the crowd to get out of their seats (the seated section of the arena that is) as the iconic bass and A Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip’s vocals of the opening tune blasted out across the 13,700 capacity arena. 

The mind blowing visuals evolved and got even weirder as Ed Simons and Tow Rowlands continued the opening stage of the show with bangers like Do It Again (my personal favourite Chemical Brothers song), Get Yourself High and MAH.

As the duo started playing the first single off their latest album, No Reason, the red and green dancers featured in the music video and the tour promotion appeared on the screen. While some bands might lose traction after 30 plus years in the business, this song proves the Chemical Brothers are nowhere near slowing down.

Balancing their setlist with a mix of newer and older tracks from their ten album long career flawlessly, the two hour set did not contain a single dull moment as it shifted between slower and bouncier songs. Adding to the visuals and the great songs, confetti rain and massive bouncy balls kept the crowd going along to songs like Hey Boy Hey Girl, Live Again, Got To Keep On and Setting Sun.

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The stunning visuals and lasers were joined by hundreds of bouncy balls. Picture by National WorldThe stunning visuals and lasers were joined by hundreds of bouncy balls. Picture by National World
The stunning visuals and lasers were joined by hundreds of bouncy balls. Picture by National World | National World

As the set comes to an end, two of the duo’s biggest hits - Galvanize and Block Rockin’ Beats - bring the best out of the crowd as they dance like there’s no tomorrow. The songs are also accompanied by Ed leaving the DJ console to engage with the audience.

The encore sees one of my favourites among the Brothers’ newer songs, No Geography, The Darkness That You Fear, and finishing on a high note, The Private Psychedelic Reel with an extended outro of a cacophony of sounds and visuals of stained glass flashing by faster and faster.

The Chemical Brothers have earned their place among the greats over their 30 year career, and have managed to adapt with the times and stay relevant throughout technological and musical evolutions. 

The Chemical Brothers' live shows have become known for their visuals. Picture by National WorldThe Chemical Brothers' live shows have become known for their visuals. Picture by National World
The Chemical Brothers' live shows have become known for their visuals. Picture by National World | National World

Their return to Leeds is a phenomenal sonic and visual experience and I can’t do anything but praise the duo - and recommend anyone who gets the chance to see them to take it.

Setlist

  • Go
  • Do It Again / Get Yourself High
  • MAH
  • No Reason
  • Hey Boy Hey Girl
  • Eve of Destruction
  • Feels Like I Am Dreaming
  • Swoon
  • Temptation / Star Guitar
  • Live Again
  • Got to Keep On
  • Wide Open
  • Escape Velocity / The Golden Path
  • Dig Your Own Hole / Under the Influence / Free Yourself / Get Up on It Like This
  • Saturate / Believe
  • Goodbye
  • Elektrobank / Three Little Birdies Down Beats / Setting Sun
  • Chemical Beats
  • Galvanize / Song to the Siren / C-H-E-M-I-C-A-L
  • Music: Response / Block Rockin' Beats

Encore

  • No Geography
  • The Darkness That You Fear
  • The Private Psychedelic Reel

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