808 State and Lone @ O2 Institute 8th December, 2018

When I found out that Mancunian acid house pioneers and legends 808 State were touring for their 30th anniversary, I knew that this was one of those must see 2018 gigs and I wasn’t disappointed.

Although advertised as an early curfew gig on the Institute website, doors didn’t actually open until the usual 7pm, this led to some classic queuing moments with some real characters waiting for the variety of shows that the venue had on. I don’t think I will actually ever forget one chaps carol singing (even for want of trying)!

When we eventually got into the venue, we were greeted with a young DJ playing a mix of acid house tracks. There is just something about that distinct sound that gets you in the mood. Quite possibly it was their familiarity yet unfamiliarity that really helped in creating an atmosphere that only grew as the night went on.

Primary support was from Lone. The young DJ/Producer from Nottingham played a blinding mix of electronica varying in style from breakbeat to ambient sounds to progressive house. With 6 albums over an 11-year career, the set blew me away. Standout track was 2018’s Temples which 808 State themselves have remixed, and this is an artist worth investigating if you’ve never heard him.

808 State curated a career spanning set of around 12 songs over approximately 80 minutes. Mixing up classics from their 5 albums with new, yet to be released material from upcoming 6th album Transmission Suite. Anniversary tours can either be spectacular affairs where you are greeted with a plethora of unexpected music or fade away into a void where every track welcomes you in an almost algorithmic way. Luckily the only algorithms that we were greeted with were that of the synthesisers.

They delivered their music in such a way that at times  you were left guessing what you were actually hearing. We had several debates as to the tracks we actually heard and if they were new or not. The new material seamlessly blended with the old stuff so well that you were none the wiser. I debated whether one of my favourite tracks 10×10 featured or not. The band have kindly requested that no setlists are published at the moment, so I think we will be left wondering for a while.

Massey’s true multi-instrumental talents were definitely highlighted over the set with his spectacular guitar riffs featuring on the vast majority of tracks and timeless Spanish guitar on Plan 9 from the Gorgeous LP. This combined perfectly with Andy Barker’s synth talents and the skills of the love drummer created something extraordinary. She’s their past material which has been slightly reimagined, but that didn’t remove the classic feel. The most popular tracks of the night were those that featured on their first two albums ninety and Ex:El. From Graham Massey’s wonderfully distinctive saxophone solo on Pacific State to the classic acid house of Cubik or Olympic the crowd were lifted every time. One member of the audience clearly couldn’t control their excitement as they left the venue with a putrid smell of all bodily functions! 808 State ended the set with a brand new track that was as acid house as 1988 itself.

I do think that if you are one of the pioneers of a genre that your music ages in an entirely different way to others that followed and 808 State:30 clearly amassed my certainty. Their tracks were delivered with such precision and passion that you would think they were crafted over the last 5 years not the last 30 and I’m sure they will be as distinctive 30 years from now.

 

Reviewer: Imran Khan

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