Gig Alert: It’s all coming back – Leftfield to headline Splore

Leftfield's Neil Barnes. PHOTO: Alicia Canter for the Observer.

Leftfield’s Neil Barnes. PHOTO: Alicia Canter for the Observer.

ANNABEL WILSON previews the first of a series of must-see acts at Splore 2016

A bit of a latecomer, I first heard Leftfield on a rainy day in Christchurch, 1996. My friend had just got her driver’s license and a second hand Honda Civic. We saw Trainspotting at Hoyts 8 and as we bunny-hopped our way back down Moorhouse Ave, deconstructed the movie. Our teenage brains faltered as we attempted to figure out just what it is that makes Danny Boyle’s masterpiece so paradigm-shifting:

– What about the part when Renton swims down the toilet?


– And then he scores a schoolgirl?

 – Ewan McGregor is HOT!

And the scene with the dead baby?!

– And how about that soundtrack?

That soundtrack. We rushed to HMV records (remember actual, physical record stores? Oh the hours spent examining cover art, listening to new sounds on headphones whilst surreptitiously scoping out boys…) Ranked by Vanity Fair as the 7th best film soundtrack of all timeand Rolling Stone’s 13th best –  the Trainspotting CD introduced us to Leftfield. ‘A Final Hit‘ closes out the album and evokes what it says on the packet – it’s the underscore to Renton’s last dabble with smack. The song is also a portal into Leftfield’s signature sound. Electronica that is at once ethereal and grittily earthy, the music made by Neil Barnes and Paul Daley ruled the raves of the 1990s. From stompers like ‘Original’, ‘Open Up’ and ‘Release the Pressure’, to their last single release ‘Swords‘, the duo held huge influence over the dance music scene,  known for their hypnotic build-ups and bang-in-your-chest bass.

Six years ago, Barnes brought Leftfield back. Touring the world and working on new material, he dropped Alternative Light Source as a solo artist last year. And now Leftfield is coming to Splore. This is super exciting news. I shall be cranking their albums, old and new, as I make the road trip to the festival on February 19. I’ll sing along to those haunting lyrics: I can identify… I close my eyes… I wear my sword at my side. I hear  there’s a sequel to Trainspotting coming out this year, too. 20 years on. Right now, so much goodness is returning from back in the day. (Like the remake of Point Break. I just hope they kept the original line from the supercharged climax: What am I gonna do, man? Cliffs on both sides – I’m not gonna paddle to New Zealand!“) Ah, the cyclical nature of life.  Maybe I’ll bust out a bunny-hop as I roll in to Tapapapakanga Park, just for kicks.

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