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Live Review: Deltron 3030 @ The Hi Fi 25.02.2015

"It's the year, 30 30 and here at the Corporate Institutional Bank Of Time we find ourselves reflecting, finding out that in fact we came back. We were always coming back.".  Damon Albarn's familiar words rang out as Kid Koala, Dan The Automator and Del The Funky Homosapien walked out on stage to an audience who'd been waiting for this moment for fifteen years.  Amped up by a Kid Koala DJ set that preceded it, an appropriate reminder of the art of turntablism in the digital age, the atmosphere was electric for this first ever live performance from Deltron on Australian soil.  "It is a weeknight I suppose, you guys were almost as loud as Adelaide" Dan jests in an attempt to rile up the crowd for participation in the chorus of Nobody Can.  Adelaide's the second night on the tour Dan, you can't pull the wool over our eyes, but we sang louder regardless. 

Though lacking the live orchestra which toured North America and Europe, the awesome trio more than made up for it with the visual enthusiasm of a band on the first night of their tour.  Kid Koala climbed and jumped from his decks whenever the excitement got too much as Dan paced the stage cradling a sample trigger pad for some portable boom bap and Del spat rhymes seemingly on his own planet, skateboard at his side.  The drums, guitar and bass added gravitas to their sound, but it's undeniably the orchestral arrangements underpinning Del's other worldly sci-fi storytelling that make Deltron such a unique act.  Dan the Automator is no stranger to high concept projects, whether as part of Dr Octagon with Kool Keith or Handsome Boy Modelling School with Prince Paul, but in my eyes it's the combination on that debut Deltron album where he peaked.  For evidence, you need look no further than set opener 3030, a grandiose manifesto of the entire project summed up in seven ambitious minutes.  The crowd couldn't help but put their hands in the air as the crescendo peaks with its gargantuan chorus. 

With a setlist that features Positive Contact, Mastermind and Virus, it's a welcome reminder of just how many incredible songs their debut album had.  Though Event II was never going to reach the peaks of the debut which preceded it by thirteen years, tracks like The Return, City Rising From The Ashes & Pay The Price are undeniably great, fitting well into the set and sounding particularly great in a live environment.  While the debut was built around samples, Event II was recorded with live instrumentation which explains why the transition to the stage feels more natural than the tracks from the debut. 

Having such a turbulent past, and with the collaborators having moved onto other projects, it's hard to imagine much of a future for Deltron 3030.  They were a cult project whose popularity spread by word of mouth who captivated a small group of individuals with their surprisingly well crafted sci-fi hip-hop.  In many ways, these recent shows aren't about an excitement for their future, but a nostalgic celebration of what it was and how it should have been received at the time.  Del has always been the reluctant member of this project, preferring to focus on the tribulations of the planet we reside on rather than stare at the stars and opening up his imagination.  The increased political agenda of Event II suggests a compromise that was enough to let the project complete.  Though Event II may not reach the heights of the debut, it's hardly a disaster considering the time it took to be made. 

Despite the cynicism, there's still a part of me that wants more, a part that doesn't care about the all-star collaboration list the Dan is notorious for and sees a future to this that could have more consistence and coherence if the supergroup managed to focus on it and it alone.  Whether or not this will happen, time will tell, but in the meantime I'll just count myself lucky to have finally had the chance to hear these songs played live.

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