Orbital have just unveiled a prestigious plaque at the place where they played their first-ever live gig. The PRS For Music heritage award has been put on the wall at The Garage music venue (known as the Town & Country II when Orbital debuted there) on Highbury Corner in North London. Orbital played their first-ever live gig there on 18th March 1990. The Hartnoll brothers Phil and Paul kick-started Orbital — named after the M25 motorway that ravers used to access home counties raves — in 1989 and soon slotted into the rave pantheon after their epic 'Chime' single was snapped up by Pete Tong's ffrr label, having first made an appearance on Jazzy M's Oh-Zone Records. Hailing from Sevenoaks in Kent, Paul Hartnoll was washing up in a pizza restaurant at the time they signed their seven-album deal.
“It’s hard to believe our first proper Orbital gig was 23 years ago, I feel touched that PRS for Music want to mark this occasion which was for me one of the defining moments as a young man,” Paul said at the unveiling. “I felt like 'I’d arrived' at some place, finally putting my foot on a road that I had been looking for as long as I can remember.” Paul recalled driving up from Sevenoaks to London in the Mini Metro he had at the time, packed with gear, his brother Phil and a couple of mates. “I was gobsmacked when we played ‘Chime’ at the end of our 20-25 minute set and a ripple of recognition went up and smiles spread throughout the place,” he recalled. “I truly realised at that point that something may have started.”
Orbital, of course, went on to have a string of hits, played an amazing Glastonbury set in 1994 — headlining the Other Stage — that's credited with turning a load of indie kids onto dance music, and became one of the principal live electronic music acts of the past 20 years or so. To recognise their achievements — from their halcyon days up to playing the Olympics last year and beyond — they become the 14th recipients of the PRS For Music's Heritage Award. These plaques are erected in unusual places to recognise the unusual performance birthplaces of iconic artists. Orbital take their place alongside the likes of Queen, Blur, Elton John, UB40, Faithless, Dire Straits, Squeeze and Soul II Soul.
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