The Symphonic Sounds of Back to Basics review

Jack Law witnessed Leeds clubbing institution Back To Basics collide with the Orchestra of Opera North for an epic outdoor show.

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 4th Aug 2017.
Originally published: 1st Aug 2017

The combination of a classical orchestra with electronic music has really come into its own in recent years. Pete Tong’s done it, Liverpool’s Cream has done it and Manchester’s Hacienda has done it, to name but a few. So it makes absolute sense that Leeds would get their turn and who better to represent the city than its revered and much loved club night Back to Basics, who also happen to be celebrating a whopping 26 years in the game. 

Backed by Leeds City Council, the main setup consisted of “a 50-piece orchestra with Dave Beer plonked in the middle DJing with Opera North” (as described by the man himself in a recent BBC interview in the run up to the event), in the iconic surroundings of Leeds’ Millennium Square. However, the Orchestra of Opera North were to put their usual genre to one side and instead fine tune their inventory of instruments toward classic house music. Credit to them, they seemed to relish the opportunity and they certainly did a fine job.

The performance was split into two sections. We spent pretty much the entirety of the first section in the queue for the bar, a little frustrating but we could just about hear and see what was going on. A sterling selection of dance hits included Fish Go Deep’s ‘The Cure & The Cause’ as well as Daft Punk’s ‘One More Time’ and a superb rendition of Donna Summer’s 'I Feel Love’ with Leeds’ own Corinne Bailey Rae on vocals. 

We managed to get stuck in for the second section and what an atmosphere it was in that crowd. Whether it was passionate Back to Basics fans revelling in how far Beero and Basics had come, or regular party goers from back in the day who had dusted off their dancing shoes for the night, or those of us too young to have been in the clubs when these tracks were first being played, we all danced and sang our hearts out as a collective, to the epic sounds of the orchestra.

It was a real treat to hear the music in its finest form, directly from the instruments that form the basis of the electronic sound. Each family of the orchestra layered together vocals, strings, brass, percussion and keyboard, to create spine tingling renditions of Alison Limerick’s ‘Where Love Lives’, Brothers in Rhythm’s ‘Such A Good Feeling’ and the aptly included Shapeshifters classic ‘Back To Basics’. Groove Armada’s MC M.A.D took to the stage for their hit ‘Superstylin’ before Basement Jaxx took over for a colourful live performance complete with bongos, whistles and their original vocalists.

The Gospel Choir joined for a grand finale, a hands in the air ending as a very proud Dave Beer stepped down from his decks, bottle of bubbly in hand, celebrating the joint success of Back to Basics and the Orchestra of Opera North. It had been a memorable night not only for them but for all of us that had the pleasure of being a part of it.  

Back To Basics returns to Church in Leeds on Sunday 27th August with Richy Ahmed and Darius Syrossian. Get your tickets for Back To Basics