For producers who find themselves chained to their studio desks much of the time, it can be a difficult conundrum to work out how to bring original compositions to a live setting.
Many choose to simply stick to the DJ booth, whereas others may seek to surround themselves with a group of session players who bring their material to life.
However, the Dewaele brothers have spent the last two decades conquering both sides of the fence, taking their arsenal of infectious electro remixes on the road as 2ManyDJs, as well as wowing audiences across the world with their own back catalogue as Soulwax.
Earlier this year, they released their first LP in the latter guise for 12 years in the shape of FROM DEEWEE. With this comeback came a reimagined live setup, with the Soulwax ensemble swelling from three to seven.
After a spring tour that had everyone talking, the band returned to UK shores for a short winter stint that included London’s Roundhouse, and this visit to Manchester at The Academy.
Taking such modern-age productions from the studio to a huge venue like this is a challenging process, but the expanded band (which is now driven by a trio of drummers) are more than up to the task tonight. It’s a set that draws on sporadically released material dating back to the 90s, but the way it knits together classics such as ‘Krack’ with ‘Do You Want to Get into Trouble?’ and ‘Missing Wires’ from FROM DEEWEE is exhilerating.
The original members of Soulwax navigate their way around a seemingly never-ending row of synths and mixers that line the middle of the stage, with Stephen Dewaele stepping up to provide his signature lo-fi vocal when required.
The greater level of live instrumentation really emphasises the krautrock-inspired side of their more recent material, marrying pulsating 80s synth parts with hypnotic, intertwining percussion.
As the C3PO-like metallic head that provides the cover art to FROM DEEWEE is beamed across the the venue, the show really feels like it comes to a rock ‘n’ roll-style crescendo that we wouldn’t necessarily have expected from previous tours. Hell, there’s even room for an encore, as Stephen leaves the stage and thanks his excitable Sunday night audience for a “special show”.