Skip to main content

DAFT PUNK. ASTORIA. LONDON, LIVE REVIEW 1997


 Melody Maker, 20 November 1997
UNDERGROUND/OVERGROUND, spectacle/black-out, in-yer-face/faceless, pop/music. Dance has to make its choices. Either it believes in its own unique power, rejecting stages, identification, authenticity and the audience/artist gap of reverence and tries to create a totally new kind of night out, or it can be just better rock'n'roll, filling stages with enough flash and bodies to kick shit off, still playing on the same ideas of spectacle and acceptance that rock thrives on.
The trouble tonight is that we fall between dance's radical potential and a trad need for "legitimacy"; on the one hand, music so heavenly it makes minds and bodies pop, on the other hand, a spectacle and set-up so dim and dull that hearts and souls wither. Torn between celebrating 12-inch culture and shoring up album culture, it sells both short.
Tonight, everyone's made to wait in a heaving Astoria til 11pm, then, a pause, a glance, and "is this them?" You have to applaud Daft Punk's successful stab at anonymity, but it's all very well being anonymous set behind a pair of decks in the middle of a dancefloor or perched above (as they were when I saw them tear up Glastonbury something fearsome this year), but when you're on a big stage, when people have stood for two hours looking stageward waiting for something spectacular, to simply slope on unannounced and start spinning out the hits isn't enough.


And it's a shame, because in terms of sheer ear buzz and booty quake they're phenomenal — harder, more concise and 
propulsive than the sometimes
 wayward LP "808 Revolution" 
sounds like just that, the 
four-to-the-floor thump speeding 
into pure electro-spark and hiss,
 the beats warping into levels of bitchy ruffness worthy of Mantronix at his finest.
A lot of Daft Punk's bite tonight is determinedly old-skool — 'Daftendirekt' and 'Burnin'
 come on as straight-down-the-line Bambaataa to this sourpuss, and 'Around The World' is the best diva-less disco ever. All night, Daft Punk have an uncanny knack of splicing the best chops together in a mixology that's never in service to correctness, but purely in the interests of the sheer, rubbery danceability of the groove. In many ways, they do to 20 years of dance music what Jon Spencer does to rock — purify, distil, amplify — and their retreat into the shadows is entirely in keeping with that history. But it's a con to perpetrate it in a venue made for visuals and, by the time an admittedly storming 'Da Funk' hurries us out, you catch the nothing lights, the empty screens, you catch yourself, and you have to wonder if this is £12 better than hearing it in a club, whether this crush and heat and fever are somehow improved by simply being in the same room as the people who make the sounds. If they're even here. If they aren't, it doesn't matter, and maybe Daft Punk count that as a victory. I call it a bank raid. Hands up.
© Neil Kulkarni, 1997

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

MANIC STREET PREACHERS, ASTORIA, LONDON, 1994, LIVE REVIEW, MELODY MAKER

(photo by Pat Pope, full text)  MANIC STREET PREACHERS  ASTORIA, LONDON  SORRY, lifelong fan, but I’m a new convert. I got into them a week ago and here I am. (They start with “Faster and, after the dub and horrorcore they’ve played, it jarrs and fits perfectly.) OK, see it ain’t attitude cos anyone can do that, just cock a snook and suck your cheeks. It ain’t glamour. Glamour is boring. Glamour is loud pretty people who hug, hug, hug, giggling at your geek self all night. And it ain’t rock’n’roll; it was your rock’n’roll that made a nigger-hater the King, your teddy boys who Paki-bashed for Mosley, Notting Hill 1958, your rock’#n’roll build on SAMBO DON’T SELL. I ain’t interested and the Manics are way beyond that. (“Yes” is Stjepan Mestrovic’s “Balkanisation Of The West” turned punk anthem, as if it could be any more punk. No higher compliment exists.)    The four founding points of Manics songs – one: modern life is untenable. Two: no one ever gets used to loneliness. Three: if tr…

BRITAIN SEE THYSELF PART II. A POST-REFERENDUM DIARY AND A HISTORY OF BRITISH SELF-PITY

Tuesday June 28th, 2016.

OK, a week since the vote and hey, I know the drill. Similar to those habits you kicked back into after 9-11, after 7-7. Heads down. Don't notice the people crossing the road to avoid you. Don't register any reaction to the shop assistants who drop the change with a panic'd repulsion into your foul brown palm. Keep your eyes down, no eye-contact with anyone. Get through the street to safety because the street is a place where you are a target again now, just as you were as a child. Don't ever ever relax again because that moment where your vigilance slips, when you start doubting your own paranoia, is the moment when the van draws up and three pink faces look your way grinning, when the kids see their chance to have some fun, when the guy on his bike who you hadn't thought of leans into the pavement to spit his venom, when the words will come unbidden and deafening, those words that won't just fuck up your day but will haunt your sleep, …

WHY WE MUST BAN THIS UKULELE FILTH NOW

Top Eight Worse FUCKING Ukelele FUCKING Breathy-Voiced FUCKING Covers For FUCKING Adverts

I can't think of any more because I don't want my head to explode with rage.

1. Dogs Trust - 'I Only Want To Be With You
2. Renault Zoe - That's Entertainment
3. McDonalds - Rhythm Of The Night 
4. T-Mobile - Teenage Kicks
5. Lloyds Bank - Mad World 
6. Kia - Ever Fallen In Love 
7. John Lewis - Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
8. Chanel No.5 - You're The One That I Want 


My uke-hate I think came to a peak with an ad from last year. I blamed Lily Allen for the mannered vocal unmanneredness, Mumford & Sons for the fucking ukeleles, David Cameron for the ideological basis for it all, but it was AXA Insurance I blamed for that appaling cover of 'Little Things Mean A Lot"  and they will therefore burn for all eternity in the skin-flaying flames of hell, alongside Dave, Lily and The Mumfucks. Artists (esp. Britschool-alumni-style priveliged CatPowerfan-feckers like …