SWG3, Glasgow

Tuesday 28th, March


Phil and Paul Hartnoll are the two brothers that formed the electronic dance act, Orbital in 1989. The band’s name is taken from Greater London’s ‘Orbital Motorway’ the M25. Which was central to the early rave scene during the early days of Acid House. In 1989 Orbital recorded “Chime’ on their fathers four track tape deck. It was stroke of musical genius that began the career of one of the world’s most successful dance acts. It was Glastonbury 1994 that Orbital played their breakthrough show, launching rave culture into the mainstream, another amazing Glastonbury Moment that would change both Orbitals lives and Divine’s life at the same time. It was the year that I had my Kundalini awakening the magik that year was indeed potent. 1994 was a sunbaked gorgeousness of a festival. Indeed it was a point that brought about the birth of countless electronic dance acts. But none are quite as big and successful as Orbital.

The Hartnoll brothers first incarnation of Orbital lasted until 2004 and released 7 incredibly successful, mega selling long players, headlining festivals globally they took their unique brand of electronic music to increasing success, at one point during the first incarnation, Orbital were one of the biggest acts on the planet. The duo went their separate ways in 2004 after changing dance culture forever and burning themselves into the consciousness of the musical planet, with legendary light shows and phenomenal production. Orbital were born from the same culture that created the Electronic Heavyweights, Underworld, The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy.

Indeed, Divine has been a fan for a long time. It was Glastonbury 2004, It was the wettest of wet festivals, I had been working all weekend in the Healing Fields, the rain had been persistent and The Glastonbury site had been turned into thick congealing mud, Orbital were headlining the NME stage on the Sunday Night. Because it was rumoured to be their last live performance. I went extra out of my way to be there for it. I even wore my purple kilt for the occasion. Anyway I got to the stage n good time, Got central perfect speaker separation and view of the stage, feet firmly planet in the mud, it was pissing it down and indeed the gig was out of this world. And because I had my boots firmly planted in the mud I could dance like mental without falling over, I will never forget Orbitals take on the Dr Who Theme Tune and the blue lighting of the stage, Oh aye, it was one of them amazing Glastonbury moments, speechlessly good. It was just after the Orbital Gig, I was priding myself on not slipping once, was weaving my way back to the Healing Fields along the path to the stone circle, It was still really pissing it down, the ground disappeared and I was sliding down a trench, a hand appears from nowhere and pulls me out, I was covered in mud and a bit embarrassed. I mean what a girl goes through for one’s electronic heroes.

So, 10 years that took them to the peak of Rock N Roll Brilliance And then they were gone. A generation of 30-somethings mourned the good old days and serotonin levels balanced out with the aid of a little therapy. Everyone thought life willnae be the same without Orbital. Being a DJ myself I have always sought out remixes of Orbitals work and always without exception bring Orbital into the mix, as did countless other 30-something DJ’s at the time. Keeping the legacy alive.

Orbital: The Rebirth

After four long years apart and with a focus on individual creative side project’s. The separation proved too much for the Hartnoll brothers and on the 21st November 2008. Orbital announced that they were reforming to begin the duos rebirth and return to the live arena but wouldn’t release a new album of originals until Wonky in 2012. Indeed Orbital performed at The HMV Picturehouse on the Wonky Tour. I couldnae afford to go at the time, it was before I started writing reviews and had already bought tickets for Gary Numan and The Human League. I bought the Album Wonky But couldnae stretch my funds to an Orbital ticket too.

Orbital: The End Of The Rebirth

On 21 October 2014, Orbital announced on their official website that they were “hanging up their iconic torch-glasses and parting ways for the final time” but would continue to work on projects separately. Phil Hartnoll focused on a DJ career, including a performance at Fuji Rock Festival, while Paul Hartnoll worked on a variety of music projects, including a solo album under the name 8:58 in 2015.

Orbital: The Rebirth Of The Rebirth

By 2017 they were back on it for a much-anticipated reconciliation and reunion with tour dates and a new album called Monsters Exist. Indeed Orbital have soundtracked a great proportion of my adult life. Yes I do love them. My last Orbital experience was at Sol Fest last year when I was on Production and DJing for Roo’s Lagoon.. I was pretty tired though, had been on it for four days and was Djing from 2am till 4am Monday Morning. The Closing Set of The Lagoon and the closing set of the festival. So was not completely present for that Orbital Experience.

So with great Joy, I have been given the opportunity to review one of my all-time favourite electronic Live Dance Acts. Orbital at SWG3 in Glasgow. Raymond Speedie will be on photographs. Divine on words. I will be accompanied by the very beautiful Zoe, Its gonna be fantastic,

See Ya On The Dancefloor at SWG3.


It was my first time at SWG3 tucked away on the side of the M8, an old warehouse that interestingly enough, was a venue for illegal Raves back in the day. the subculture that began the careers of tonight’s reason for being there. Orbital Touring their brilliant new long-player Optical Delusion.

I met up with my dancing partner of the night, Zoe and we both headed to Partik and the SWG3 venue. We arrived at doors opening as I wanted to take in the full show. Tonights opening DJ and support to the mighty Orbital. Manami didn’t disappoint. A young lady that was born in Tokyo and now resident in Bristol, an accomplished classical pianist and producer and a much-in-demand DJ. Manami warmed up the SWG3 venue perfectly with a perfectly mixed set that was killa and nae filla. Manami performed for a solid two hours. I had such a good time and the dance was awesome. Manami is one buzzing talent and couldn’t have been better placed to begin this night of quality entertainment.

By the time Manami had played her last tune the venue was packed with middle-aged ravers vibed up and ready for the spellbinding amazingness that was to come. The HatnoLl Brothers took to the stage with their legendary light specs and the audience went wild. Everyone present was up for this as a news report from the birth of Rave Culture was broadcast full of disdain and condemnation, the paranoia of the Tory Scum that feared young people having a good time, so much so. Thatcher,s cronies developed a whole bill to outlaw people from having a good time. It became known as the Criminal Justice Bill, just like Rishis current ban on laughing gas. Aye Tories are a waste of space. Indeed, this was the sentiment of tonight’s performance. With a set heavenly drawn from Orbital’s new album. A long player packed with delightful ear candy. Ringa Ringa (The Old Pandemic Folk Song) the duet with the Medieval Babes was well received The audience went wild for “Dirty Rat” the duet with The Sleaford Mods. A song packed with uncomfortable truths, demonstrating everything that is wrong with current Tory Policy. TotalLy fantastic. My fave (And current electronic dance anthem) Day One. was just superb. This was the track that I had been longing to hear played live through the Orbital Sound System.

Of course there were old faves too; Halycon (Spicy) Belfast, Satan, Chime, Impact (The Earth Is Burning). It was nothing less than a fantastic set list that had everyone dancing and raving like the last thirty years hadnae happened. Even the reworked Spice Girls number although cheese personified was a welcome addition to the classics. Fitting in very well indeed with the quality of the new material. Absolutely no one was disappointed and everyone had the best time ever. The Orbital light show was phenomenal combined with material this good. It goes to show, that middle-aged ravers do it better. Four hours of the best electronic musical entertainment, relished by everyone present and indeed as is commonplace with Glasgow’s audiences, everyone was friendly and totally up for the best time possible. I’m still having flashbacks of excellence.

Without a doubt a 5 Star Performance and an absolutely brilliant night out.

Words: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Photography: Raymond Speedie

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