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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

808 State, 14 December, Foundry

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Nottingham producer Lone is an interesting choice of opening DJ for a rave act who started out not long after he was born.

Matt Cutler's woozy productions freely borrow from the tropes and textures of late eighties house, before infusing them with the off-school-sick eeriness of a Ghost Box record. He opens with one of his own, 'Blue Moon Tree', and the rest of the set is largely made up of his own work, such as the breakbeat of 'Temples'. The crowd, old enough to have seen 808 the first time round, take it for genuine Haçienda house, and it's perhaps Cutler's game-plan to trigger this false memory and then mess with it. 'No Way Back' by Adonis, a track 30 years older, slips in unnoticed.

The sight of a guitar in a club is always an ominous one

On this 30th anniversary tour 808 State are in full band mode, and the sight of a guitar in a club is always an ominous one. A live drummer gives the older material a more immediate feel, but the transitions between tracks are sloppy and the decision to play mixed-through renders the short set a little incoherent. This affects lesser-known and newer material from upcoming album Transmission Suite more than the classic cuts, which still bang.

When the metallic melody of 'In Yer Face' kicks in the room erupts and Graham Massey's band find form from the appreciative roar of recognition. Their biggest hit, 'Pacific State', sounds a bit cheesy these days with its tropical bird effects, but here it's overhauled to restore the transcendent quality it must have had in '89.

Massey takes to his saxophone and improvises on the track's main theme, the sound drifting across a smoke-filled Foundry with the same elevating quality as the sax solo during 'Building' from Einstein on the Beach. "We made a lot of this music here!" Massey tells the crowd, "Fon Studios!" They close with another face-melter, 'Cobra Bora' from 90, a massive riff bolted on to a powerhouse of a rhythm section, and the crowd is again whipped into a frenzy.

Sam Gregory

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