DJ Shadow in Vancouver (Live) [Photos/Review]
Vancouver, B.C. – Turntable mastermind DJ Shadow returned once again to the Commodore ballroom as part of a tour showcasing a new live performance tool: the “Shadowsphere.” Shadow has always found ways to connect to the audience that aren’t usually associated with a DJ/producer performance, and the “Shadowsphere” concept is another great example of this: by using a combination of visuals and audio, Shadow singlehandedly inspired emotion and excitement in the audience.
Opening the night was Quannum projects’ Pigeon John, delivering a high-energy set that brought the somewhat apprehensive crowd to its feet after just a few tracks. Flanked on either side by female singers – including Vancouver’s own Erica Dee who also pulled double duty as DJ – John’s infectious energy and good humor had the crowd singing and chanting along to a melodic set comprised heavily of material from his new album Dragon Slayer. Pigeon John did a great job of keeping the crowd’s attention for the entire duration of the set and the usual “opening act boredom” that seems to plague many shows was non-existent – many were screaming “encore” at the end of the set.
Next up was the DJ known for his many innovations. Never one to rest on his laurels, Shadow has always brought fresh and exciting ideas to his live shows and tours, whether it be all 45 sets with regular collaborator Cut Chemist or the combination multimedia experience of the “In Tune on On Time” Tour. This time around, Shadow introduced the “Shadowsphere” a large orb-like structure which is used as both a canvas for projected visuals and a cockpit-like DJ booth. The Shadowsphere concept worked out really well with two different sets of images being projected, one on the orb and another onto a flat backdrop.
Other than an understated entrance by the man himself, the first half of the set visually belonged to the “ShadowSphere.” From the moment DJ Shadow entered the orb, incredible visuals played in perfect sync with remixed versions of many of the tracks from previous albums. Amid furious scratching and drum and bass-inspired rhythms the Shadowsphere transformed from varying items such as a baseball/basketball to the death star, creating 3D imagery that worked perfectly in conjunction with the background visuals and the soundtrack being played.
Halfway thru the set The Orb was turned around to reveal an opening into DJ Shadow’s work space and to give us a view of the man at work. At this point in the set he revealed a few unreleased tracks from his upcoming album, definitely a treat for any diehard Shadow fan, although the lack of familiarity and eye candy from the first half did cause the energy to droop just a little. If the energy waned a little during this section it was quickly brought back with crowd pleasing reworkings of classic cuts like “Six Days” and “Organ Donor,” the former reworked into a uptempo drum and bass-type groove that had most people on the Commodore dance floor moving in unison.
For an encore the focus was brought back to the “Shadowsphere” and the visuals, combined with a more down-tempo, introspective sound track, brought things to a close nicely. The audience left the night undoubtedly feeling inspired, energized and excited to see what tricks DJ Shadow has up his sleeve for his next tour.
Written by Kent Stephany for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands