DJ Shadow – 02 Academy, 5th December

As the crowd thickens in O2’s ABC venue there is a buzz of excitement amongst the sea of caps and hoods edging towards the stage. Shadow enters with the stage flooded with lights and no back ground music to make a surprisingly formal speech-like introduction to his show. He disappears amongst a sudden burst of visuals flooding the stage and the sound of helicopters overhead. The intro to the first song of his set is tediously long with low, loud bass vibrating through the floor and harsh record scratching; it becomes monotonous and impossible to dance to.

The intro lasts 20 minutes before DJ Shadow emerges again; there is a sudden improvement as the bass becomes steadier and the lyrics for ‘Walkie Talkie’ can be heard. His older songs produce a vibe of old school hip hop vocals and beats embroidered with techno. His more recent creations consist of slower dubstep style with a synth keeping the track stable, mixed with an ear piercing array of dub breakdowns. Each track approaches the climax by mounting different beats, scratches and lyrics on top of each other until they explode into a blast of techno. The instrumental and vocals tend to be overpowered by the head ache provoking techno beats, disc scratches and dub breakdowns. With exceptions such as ‘Six Days’ who’s vocals and melody are placed over the synthetic compilation of beats.

Looking around the hall it’s easy to spot the mums and dads there to supervise the “over 14s” at their first gig. Although due to Shadow’s long history in the industry there are some older figures certainly not there to accompany eager teens. I spot a silver haired, pot-bellied gentleman who must have been 70+ sporting a grey hoodie and vibing away amongst the mob.  In the front row the chemical-kaze scent of mephedrone sits in the air. Down here the crowd is all sweat and raged dancing, arms flying and feet stomping as if absorbing the musical calamity as it vibrates from the speakers.  [Isabella Lewis]

DJ Shadow working those decks like he does best!

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