Bluedot, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Orbit stage, July 7 2017.
Twenty-two years have whipped past since Leftfield released their pioneering album Leftism and joined the ranks of Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and Orbital in steering British music away from the total heat-death of endless guitars. The Orbit tent is packed for a full performance of the album, from the tribal top to the thumping tail, with many of the guest vocalists along for the heady ride. Only Neil Barnes of the original Leftfield duo is present, but he leads the punky house like 1995 was only yesterday. And maybe, in a weird warp of Bluedot time dilation, it was. Time hardly seems to matter to the thrilled crowd come to worship at Leftfield’s temple of dub and rhythms, at this, the first chance for a proper dance at this year’s festival. Arms are raised in rave benediction and smiles are as wide as the sky when the beats kick in.
An early highlight comes with vocalist Djum Djum, basked in the glow of the big-screen sun, courting a theramin while barking his vocals on over the tribal rhythms of ‘Afro-Left’. Later, the sweeping, sultry echoes of ‘Original’ get the acolytes swaying, before the heavier beats of the latter half of Leftism pull us all back to euphoria. The monochrome snarl of John Lydon fills the screen for a thumping rendition of house classic ‘Open Up’ and while it’s all suddenly very nineties, it feels somehow appropriate, somehow urgent again. The call to burn Hollywood down has not lost any of its potency.
The moodiness of ‘21st Century Poem’, featuring the voice of Lemn Sissay, carries us down a dark wave to the ending when the silhouetted figures of Barnes et al are swallowed by the gaping maw of the shark mouth cover art. Barnes thanks us, reminds us, as if he needed to, that we’ve just witnessed Leftism. All praise.