808 STATE and ABSOLUTE:
CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON 29 Oct 2021.
808 State are an English electronic music group formed in 1987 in Manchester, taking their name from the Roland TR-808 drum machine. They were formed by Graham Massey, Martin Price and Gerald Simpson, and they released their debut album, Newbuild, in September 1988. The band secured commercial success in 1989, when their song “Pacific State” was picked up by BBC Radio 1 DJ Gary Davies.
808 State’s style has been labelled as techno and house, and the band are regarded as “a pioneer of the acid house sound”. The band’s album, Newbuild, was influential in the development of the Madchester and baggy scene. The band’s song “Pacific State” was released as a single, released in 1989, and peaked at number 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
808 State were due to hit Brighton back in April 2020, but then Covid happened. Tonight the gig was definitely going to happen!
Essentially, on the stage in Concorde 2, I have to point out that Mr Massey definitely took charge. There was a live drummer sat at the back of the stage with a huge kit and large gong hanging behind him. A DJ was spotted from time to time in the at times densely smoke filled stage. Massey is the ‘frontman’ of the band, make no mistake. He didn’t say much tonight really apart from a “Welcome, its been a few years since we were last here” and a heads up for us all of the “last song of the night due to 10pm curfew”. All of the tracks and songs between his opening and closing statements seamlessly melted into one another.
Opening up tonight was In Yer Face, Trinity (from new album Transmission Suite) and billed as 80808 Techno City, which saw Graham Massey on a various assortment of keyboards and tech wizardry. Pacific State was next and Massey switched to that Sax. He played it brilliantly. San Francisco, Ujala (from new album), Cobra Bora saw him back on the keyboards and Sunrise saw him switch instruments around. A pure masterclass.
What I, and I think the sold out crowd at Concorde 2 picked up on is notably that 808 State still hold power and influence even after some 30 odd years since they formed. I had never seen 808 State live before, but as my time as a nightclub DJ there were not many nights when a 12” single wasn’t dropped onto a turntable. Always a floor filler!
Sounding fresh and vibrant
The familiar tracks get played for us tonight and damn, they still sound fresh and vibrant. The sound in Concorde 2 was huge tonight, loud but clear. I have to say that Pacific State sounded superb. We were also treated to some of the newer material, from their most recent release in 2019, the Transmission Suite. It all sounded wonderful and the fusion somehow mixes in the known styles of acid/techno/electro/dance making it all relevant today in the recognised 808 State style and format.
The Set – Continued:
Astrakhan, Metaluna and Donkey Doctor were played and this is when Graham switches to his guitar. I think someone upped the volume as now Concorde 2 was in full on dance/rave mode. The sound was immense as was the reaction from the crowd as arms held aloft and much dancing ensued! 808 State Cubic and then EXO marked the end. What a set!
We had a great laser / light show that fired its beams around Concorde 2, operated skilfully by someone sat at the back of the stage.
Massey doesn’t stop as he pulls it all together, he manipulated keyboards, playing keys and some superb Sax solo playing in Pacific State, my favourite track of the night, and during other tracks during the chock full set. Later he moved onto a Fender guitar. At one stage we had an almost Shadows – FBI sounding guitar slot. Later this guitar was buzzed up, and this provided, a harder edge to the set. Safe to say he just blew me, and the crowd, away.
So I guess you might need a reminder as to why 808 State have lasted so long? Well, all I can do is suggest you go see them live on a stage. 808 State continue to be endlessly creative, they have a fascinating back catalogue of sounds and styles, and don’t forget that latest album Transmission Suite.
The tunes performed tonight do not sound tired at all, but what we witnessed tonight is proof that they are still pushing it all forward. A stunning performance.
Congrats to Concorde 2 team for some super sound mixing and a dazzling light show.
808 State can be found on the internet, 808 State HERE
Guest: dj Absolute
No support bands tonight, however on stage dj ABSOLUTE was slapping down some tunes.
Absolute was a great choice of a warm up. He played some of those tunes from back in the day and had the crowd, which was rapidly starting to build up, dancing away before 808 State. He had a keyboard up there with him and was adding some additional sounds to the tracks as they played through. An unusual touch I thought. This was a loud, and as you might expect a bass driven set. He did the trick and set the mood for the evening and what was to come.
The evening was promoted by JOY. Joy. are leading independent Concert Promoters & Event Organisers based in Brighton and can be found here on the WWW.
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