Monday, June 7, 2010

European Club Gig

I've arrived at the listening post for the famous "European Club Gig" 1996 by Underworld.
The actual venue for this amazing show remains somewhat cryptic...the only clue is Karl Hyde mentioning how great it is to be back in Germany.
But it doesn't really matter where the show was recorded - the excellent sonic quality of the recording and the epic performance itself are stand-alone virtues.

Clocking in at over 120 minutes, this is Underworld at their solo best, not a festival gig, but a fully developed live performance which showcases their best tracks at the time.

Beginning with the legendary "Juanita/Kiteless/To Dream of Love" series, we hear 20 minutes of track not yet released on LP, but rarely played with such sophistication. This song has so many loops and hooks and live additions that it can be perfomed countless ways. But here is a harbinger of the definitive live document "Everything Everything", recorded some 2-3 years later.

The next succession is from the 1994 LP "dubnobasswithmyheadman", consisting of "Dark and Long", "rez" (ok,a 1993 single) and "Cowgirl"... as typical, the latter two tracks are seemlessly mixed, but what's wonderful about the European Club gig is that everything's mixed! The boys don't take a break until over 70 minutes in!

Sister tracks "Cherry Pie" and "Rowla" exhibit the band at their techno best, before the beat-poetry of "Confusion the Waitress" and jungle breaks of "Pearls Girl" kick in. An amazing 17+ minute version of "Born slippy" follows, and believe me, you're not bored for a second. Effortlessly segueing into megahit "Born Slippy.NUXX" as a finale, the whole show sounds polished, but still playful, with lots of rough vocal samples, quick record-spin blasts, and intro/outtro beat-heavy improvs for each track.

It may be of uncertain origin, but the European Club Gig stands as one of Underworld's finest live recordings, circulating the internet in various guises, but always in high fidelity. Minimal crowd noise means alll the more concentration on the music, never to disappoint.

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