Capturing the energy of a gig is never easy. It’s made even harder when the band in question is The Chemical Brothers. The electronic titans are renowned for the scale and intensity of their shows, with startling visuals accompanying their ferocious beats on huge screens behind their hive of equipment on stage. But that is the challenge that debut ﬁlmmaker Adam Smith has taken up as, for one night only, the magic of live music is transported into cinemas across the world.
The ﬁlm’s simple narrative follows the duo’s headline set at the 2011 Fuji Rock Festival. While this concept may sound simplistic and dull, the results prove vivid and exhilarating. The dynamism of their live show really shines through, aided by some fantastic camera work and immersive crowd shots. The responsive Japanese crowd seem oblivious that their every move was being ﬁlmed, with expressions ranging from the comedic to the profound, explaining more about the music than a thousand words ever could. The band’s visual projections really bring the show to life, none more so than on tracks such as Horse Power with its prancing white stallion, and Galvanise with a sinister clown head accompaniment. These projections are also cast out into the crowd and surrounding area, leading to some beautiful shots as onlookers try to determine the source and reality of what they are seeing.
But this ﬁlm is more than just smoke and mirrors. It is the band’s music that proves the lifeblood of the piece. Twenty years of experience has taught them how to manipulate an audience and given them a wealth of material to draw upon, which the ﬁlm highlights beautifully. Whether it’s the iconic Believe, hyperactive Hey Boys, Hey Girls or set closer Block Rockin’ Beats, Adam Smith perfectly captures their energy and essence and makes it seem as if he’s giving you a window into the best gig you were never at.
That said, not everything about this ﬁlm is perfect. By the end of the 90 minutes there’s a sense of frustration at having failed to gain any further insight into the men behind the music. It demonstrates rather than explains their brilliance which, for non-fans, may prove a problem. But any ﬁlm that can cause spontaneous raving in a cinema (and I do genuinely mean raving) is well worth its ticket price.