'Acid house pioneers 808 State are still able to thrill with their refreshingly retro brand of dance music,' Deputy Music Editor Joe Gorecki reviews.
808 State’s recent Bristol gig was part of the dance music veterans’ 30th anniversary tour, and while it was definitely a night of vintage State, it was more than just an ‘80s throwback evening. For much of the set the band were able to capture the energy of the acid house past yet able to give it an updated groove.
With their focus on keeping the dancing going and the energy up, 808 State played through a continuous set, their past and present hits blending into each other. This was particularly impressive considering they were using a live drummer whose playing impressively never faltered.
It was this atmosphere that gave the gig a unique feel, capturing a taste of the dance music of the past.
Despite this lack of on-stage banter you got a feeling for the personalities of the duo with Andrew Barker manning a large rack of drum machines and synthesisers whereas Graham Massey was constantly switching instruments and even sitting down at the end of the stage while he played the gorgeous Spanish guitar loops of ‘Plan 9’.
Much of the rest of the audience were either dressed as if they were at the Haçienda during its heyday or old enough to remember 808 State the first-time round.
The rave-y vibes were reinforced with bright green lasers that came from behind the band slicing in to the audience, the visuals perfectly meshing with the spacey retro futuristic sound.
The band played many of their classics including ‘In Yer Face’ which has fairly recently been remixed by current dance music titans Bicep. However, the undeniable highlight of the night was 808 State’s classic 1989 hit ‘Pacific State’ – its gorgeous saxophone part still able transcend nearly 30 years later with Graham Massey clearly relishing his ability to enrapture the crowd with his soprano saxophone.
The set seemed to run of steam after this peak though, with the band continuing for another twenty minutes but struggling to recapture its momentum amid some slightly samey high intensity playing.
For many fans this was cut short though as the band abided by a strict 10pm curfew from the venue forcing them to abandon an encore. While this left the gig on a slightly disappointing note for much of the set, 808 State showed why they have been so successful for 30 years in creating grooving atmospheres and allowed an opportunity to explore some recent dance music history by dancing to it.
Featured Image: Harry Goldsmith / Epigram
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