DJ Shadow in London

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  • From the early '00s, when edge-cutting VJ battles tuned the freshly-cylindrical hall of London's Imax, to today, when the city's major venues play host to a new AV show almost every week, there is no absence of optics accompanying live music shows in the capital. As such, for shows to stand out, it usually must provide something quite exceptional. In most cases, this is either the surprising congruity of visuals and music, or simply the way these visuals are displayed: LED panels, suspended cubes and silicon rods are all examples of ways in which performers have added a new level to the live experience. DJ Shadow's current equivalent is The Shadowsphere, a sphere onto which spectacular visuals are projected, sitting in front of a secondary screen—a set-up which has accompanied him on his tour for over a year. Photo credit: Antony Price Shadow has been a long-time proponent of synchronised cinematic visuals, building one of the first of such set-ups in his 2004 show In Tune and On Time. So, while the musical community may have caught up with Shadow in more ways than one, he has not backed down in attempting to provide something fresh and on a level still above that of the majority of his contemporaries, with the visuals here (by Ben Stokes) being unquestionably stunning and constantly captivating. Thankfully, the show did not rely solely on the mad displays of eyeballs hurtling through sonic booms or snow globes rolling along supermarket isles, but rather forged a union with the musical performance. Throughout the almost seamless 90-plus minutes, classic Shadow tracks were blended with rarer productions from the Solesides back catalogue, and snippets from cuts like "Bring Madlib Up" garnished generous helpings of Shadow's signature scratching style. More recent stinkers (there are some) were thankfully buried in the pits of the organized mayhem the show occasionally descended into, while some perfect arrangements were perhaps unnecessarily complicated by a textbook dubstep wobble flex. Photo credit: Antony Price The sound system at times overwhelmed and outweighed the vocal samples like those from "Blood on the Motorway" or 1994's "Lost & Found (S.F.L.)," which Mr. Davis had dusted off especially for the occasion. However, all in all, the forays into drum & bass and new couplings of unrelated classics refreshed and coated the atmosphere with a contemporary blanket of familiarity. All in all, an excellent performance.