Performing on a school night in Perth at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, DJ Shadow plays tracks off his 2016 record The Mountain Will Fall live in Australia for the first time. Perth is the first show of the tour, which will see him play in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne before heading to New Zealand.
DJ Shadow first picks up a microphone and speaks to the crowd as if we are guests in his home. There is a wide-screen projection behind him which starts playing graphics of deep space and fragmented geometrical patterns as soon as the performance begins. His DJ work bench is elaborate: laptop, scratch pads, and miniature electronic drum kit – it looks like the lab of a mad scientist more than anything else.
The opening song is dark and ambient, a perfect soundtrack for the visual piece playing which shows an astronaut travelling through the galaxy before arriving at planet Earth.
The set is not merely a DJ playing X number of songs from albums old and new. The songs seamlessly blend into one another and are mixed differently than they are on record. Fan favourites from the ground-breaking record Entroducing such as ‘The Number Song’ and ‘Building Steam With a Grain of Salt’ are met with the biggest cheers from the audience.
He plays tracks from the new record in which he’s collaborated with other artists such as Nils Frahm and Ernie Fresh. The album’s lead single ‘Nobody Speak’, which features Run The Jewels, is a highlight, its funk bassline and brass horns blast through the venue, making everybody want to dance. The screen plays the politically charged video clip to the song in sync with his performance.
Mixing strange ambient sounds, hypnotic repetitions and comforting tones with big hip hop beats and impressive scratching, DJ Shadow creates a unique hour and forty-five minutes of live music. The crowd is bouncing around like crazy at times and staring silently in awe at others.
At the end of his set, DJ Shadow shakes the hands of audience members as credits roll down the screen behind him. It felt like we had spent the evening at his place for movie night. He comes across as a humble human-being who has mastered his art and loves it even more.