Alpinestars - Manchester Apollo - 8.3.02

With Alpinestars left of centre brand of electronic music, taking up the support slot for Groove Armada may seem like a bit of a strange choice. But they've always been a bit of strange proposition - skipping the big beat sound, missing out on the commercial flavoured disco filters, steering clear of UK Garage - they've always carved there own retro-electro niche of Kraftwerkisms. If that's not enough there set to confuse people even further by ditching the old electro sound in favour of guitars which resulted in a collaboration with Placebo frontman Brian Molko for the bands forthcoming second album.

Tonight though is time to pop those disco biscuits and get down to the bands more club centred set while we wait for the housewife's favourite dance act Groove Armada. The problem with much of tonight's audience is that they see the likes of Groove Armada, Moby and Faithless as the epitomy of dance music / have probably never stepped in a club except for that wild week they took away instead of the annual Ski-ing trip / and probably own a record by Dido. This is the third time I've seen the Alpinestars and to be honest I'd have preferred it if they would have just unleashed the full live band on tonight's audience just to wake them up. Playing much the same set as they played at previous outings in Manchester from the famous headlining spot at the Castlefield Arena to the Saint Etienne support slots a few years back.

While Glyn and Richard may fall into the faceless dance band category it doesn't stop them pumping up the visuals with the best uses of video screens i've seen by a for a while by a dance band. Simplistic, straight to the point and reminiscent of those old fractal programs you used to have on your Ataris and Commodore 64's. The audience may not have got totally into the Alpinestars but when faced with and hour and a half of Groove Armada's terrible world music muso wank with added coffee table beats I know which one's I'll be heading down to next time they hit Manchester

Alex McCann

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