By State’s reckoning, it’s been well over three years since DJ Shadow last played a solo gig in Dublin. Luring us with the promise of new music and a 3D orb functioning as both a visuals canvas and Shadow’s performance cocoon, we get a mixup of both old and new material as he promises that we are amongst the first in the world to hear the new music, some of it only mastered a matter of weeks ago.
The first 20 minutes finds Shadow infecting minor classics like ‘Building Steam With A Grain of Salt’, ‘Motorway’ and ‘Fixed Income’ with high-tempo breakbeats and drum and bass all while Shadow remains in his sphere obscured from the crowd. He could be using his orb lab as a handy on-stage toilet facility, but more than likely he wants us to look at the visuals encircling him. It’s a bit odd to lose the human connection from a gig as a result – the occasional live camera feed video of inside shows us he is working diligently, but thankfully the barrier doesn’t last too long.
The new music is varied, sonically adventurous with two tunes in particular with a cut-up rock riff turned into a punk funk cut ’em up and a slow melancholic ballad with soulful vocals sticking in the memory. The rest of set is defined by lots and lots of drum and bass beats taking in samples of Dead Prez and Lil Wayne and Shadow’s collaboration with Zack De La Rocha.
The atmosphere is kicking for a Monday night as he plays a mashup between ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’ and ‘Stem/Long Stem’ as well as highlight ‘Organ Donor’. Early recording ‘High Noon’ was chosen for the encore with its guitar riff and incessant drums lifting off into a techno-heavy bass conclusion.
Shadow treats his live shows as more of a recital than a live set and while the spherical visuals were impressive it was the little details, obscured for most of the gig, such as watching Shadow play the beats to ‘Organ Donor’ on his MPC, that was lost. With no new release to promote, the gig had a mish-mash feel which dispensed with the journey feel of previous gigs that a coherent album would place on his live show, instead there were snatches of brilliance and promises of much more to come soon and that is something to be happy about.
Photos: James Goulden.