Orbital, Japanese Popstars @ Manchester Academy

(review spaceman steve / pics jane crud)

The first night of the tour kicks off with Irish support act The Japanese Popstars who build up the tension with a blend of techno-savvy loops and sweeps. It’s a neat, no-nonsense mix aimed at making even the creakiest punters break into a jig. Orbital open gently with “One Big Moment” like the echo of a remote dimensional doorbell, seamlessly slip into the funky drummer shuffle of “Straight Sun” then take a sudden right turn into the crowd-pleasing “Halcyon” mash up of Bon Jovi, Belinda Carlisle and Opus 3’s “It’s A Fine Day”. The melancholy soprano of “Belfast” is mesmerizing but it’s “Sad But True” that draws a grateful roar from the Orbital massive