Who's The Daddy: Memories of The Orb takes me back to the nineties

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June 26, 1992. And as a sun-drenched Friday afternoon turned into a golden evening, The Orb took to the NME Stage at the Glastonbury Festival. And a 22-year-old yours truly had his mind blown apart and put back together a little different.

I’d never heard music quite like it. Was it even music? It sounded like an alien transmission beamed across space and time and picked up that afternoon at Jodrell Bank.

Memories of that evening are a little sketchy, but to give you an idea of what was considered normal in the early 90s, next to us was a very slight woman of about 20, high as a kite on God knows what, dressed head to toe as a ballerina (tutu and everything) getting increasingly narked as the set went on because it was so crowded that there wasn’t enough room for her to go through her routine properly. Weird what you remember, isn’t it?

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Radio 1 broadcast the set a short while later, and it is available on YouTube, and here it is. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6pBUfSuf4oE&pp=ygUYdGhlIG9yYiBnbGFzdG9uYnVyeSAxOTky

The Orb are playing in Lancaster in MarchThe Orb are playing in Lancaster in March
The Orb are playing in Lancaster in March

Far out, man. I dug it. U.F.Orb, Little Fluffy Clouds, Blue Room, Earth (Gaia), Assassin and the catchily titled A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld.

Sounds weird now, sounded a bit weird in a field at Glastonbury 32 years ago to be honest, but their debut album, Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK and their follow up, U.F.Orb, released three days after their Glastonbury set, went to No.1 a couple of weeks later, knocking Lionel Richie’s Back To Front off top spot. Crazy times.

Two nights later we watched 808 State headline the NME Stage, and I only mention it because when I was in hospital with torn back ligaments in January 2020 and off my face on morphine, I swore blind I was back there because, to my drug-addled ears and brain, the rhythmic, metallic clank of the medical equipment sounded just like them. The boss says a nurse took me off it after that. It’s a hospital corridor, buddy. Not a festival.

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Anyway, The Orb. I’ve never got over them. On last year’s Spotify Wrapped they were my No.1 band, mainly because I play their first two albums on a constant loop while I’m tappitty-tap-tap-tapping away at the old journalism.

And the point of this week’s column, if there is one, is that 32 years after that Glastonbury set, The Orb are playing at Kanteena in Lancaster in March. And our grown-up kids are buying me a ticket for my birthday next month.

I can literally walk there. On my own, obviously, because I don’t know anyone else who likes them. Absolutely no one. I didn’t back then and nothing’s changed in the decades since. They are an acquired taste, I’ll grant you, but I played them to the boss and daughter #1 last Sunday and they both looked at me like they’d stepped in something. See you at the front.

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