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Originally published Friday, September 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM

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Orbital revives '90s rave vibe at the Paramount

Orbital, the British electronic music duo, revived the vibe of '90s raves in its high-energy performance at Seattle's Paramount Theatre Thursday, Sept. 27.

Special to The Seattle Times

Additional performances

Decibel Festival

The Decibel Festival continues with the Cannabinoids, with Erykah Badu, at 8 p.m. Friday at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle; $45 (877-784-4849 or www.stgpresents.org). The festival ends Sunday.
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Concert Review |

Orbital has come full circle.

On tour with its first new album since reuniting in 2009, the British electronic music duo featuring brothers Paul and Phil Hartnoll is reclaiming much of the excitement of the '90s, when the rave anthem "Chime" sent the pair — well, into orbit on the British charts.

As part of Seattle's ninth annual Decibel Festival, Orbital (named for the expressway that encircles London, which provided a conduit for urban kids attending raves in outlying areas) performed a colorful, melodic, intensely beat-driven concert Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre.

Much of the more-than-90-minute set was filled with songs from "Wonky," the duo's first new album in eight years. The recording nicely updates the duo's classic, punk-influenced electronica with such songs as the retro title track, featuring sultry vocals by singer Lady Leshurr of Birmingham, England.

Among the other new songs were the contagious "Stringy Acid" (also the name of a vodka-and-cranberry cocktail sold in the lobby) and the bouncy, scalp-vibrating "Straight Sun." The set opened with "One Big Moment."

Wearing matching sets of headlamps that glowed like robotic eyes, the Hartnolls commandeered an elaborate array of electronic equipment. Three large LED screens displayed dazzling imagery unique to each song.

A large crowd jammed the main floor — in its flat configuration, without the usual seats — turning it into a throbbing, bobbing sea of dancers. Perhaps reflecting the duo's long history in electronic music, the crowd spanned at least two generations. There was a strong sense of community, as well, among the good-natured concertgoers.

The rhythmic "Chime" brought back memories of the duo's heyday in the '90s, as did the ethereal "Are We Here?," from the 1994 album "Snivilisation," and the apocalyptic "Impact (The Earth Is Burning)" and atmospheric "Halcyon + On + On," from "Orbital 2." Other songs included "Beelzedub" and "Nothing Left."

Though Orbital closed its set on a high note with "Chime," the audience begged for more. The duo cheerfully returned for an encore that featured "One Perfect Sunrise" and the futuristic "Where Is It Going?"

Opening the concert was bespectacled techno DJ Paul Chambers, whose hyperkinetic 60-minute set incorporated an entertaining array of sound effects — from whistling bombs to machine-gun fire — and awesome mixing skills.

Gene Stout: gene@genestout.com

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