The Chemical Brothers, Academy, Glasgow

Academy, Glasgow

The stage is dark, the audience subdued and the beats pleasant. Monitor lights flicker. Occasionally, something human is visible near the back of the stage. Has the Chemical Brothers live experience come to this?

This, thankfully, is just the warm up: if Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons' decade in the spotlight has taught them one thing, it is how to entertain. The pair arrive on stage behind a blue-beamed saltire, move into the propulsive Hey Boy Hey Girl, and the crowd roars with joy.

Indeed, the riotous, pretension-free party that is the live Chemical Brothers experience is arguably the key factor in the duo's continuing popularity. New album Push the Button is the sound of a decent band in a comfortable groove, seemingly assembled from the same kit (an assortment of big beats, a moonlighting Britpopper, a hip-hop MC and an psychedelic comedown track to finish) that they employed for their previous records.

But while there's not an enormous amount of variety in tonight's set, the Chemical Brothers are focused enough to send a roomful of sweaty punters wild. Beats pulverise internal organs and the sounds of tortured androids, whirling helicopters and zapping laser guns shoot through the mix, while the big screens flash images of planes, tanks and exploding teapots.

After a hit-heavy initial onslaught, the mid-section dips a little, but it makes for a nicely clubby atmosphere, and means that when the eerie swoon of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne finally breaks in on The Golden Path, it feels like a genuine epiphany.

The formula is not always as successful: the interminable peaks and troughs of set closer The Private Psychedelic Reel now feel almost as dated as Britpop. But this is a rare moment of tedium in an otherwise splendid party. They may be inching closer to the nostalgia circuit, but the Chemical Brothers are dancing all the way.

· At Wolverhampton Civic Hall (01902 552 121) on Tuesday. Then touring.


James Smart

The GuardianTramp

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