30 Oct 1997
|DJ Set tour by DJ Shadow|
This show was broadcast on Radio One from Oxford Brooks University. The show was recorded and later an excerpt from the show appeared on deluxe editions of Entroducing...
Andy Crysell, New Musical Express, 8 November 1997
IT'S ASKING a lot, of course, to hope that tonight, amid a boozed-up, loudmouthed, zany shirt-wearing crowd of freshers, DJ Shadow will come close to matching the slow-burning majesty of his records. Because frankly he isn't prepared to grab anyone's attention by swinging brazenly across the stage on a rope, sporting a spangly jumpsuit and strobe-lit codpiece.
And so the truth: DJ Shadow shuffles into view in a grey woolly hat and grey sweatshirt. He surveys his decks and the small heap of technological hardware to his right. Then he goes for it, he puts on a meandering 12". Next, uh, he fiddles with one of his greyish effects boxes. But he isn't moving much. Nor is he persuading us to, like, dance. And, oh yeah, the light show is a bit crap, too...
So, DJ Shadow, undoubtedly one of the most inventive and awe-inspiring artists in any genre of music right now, isn't exactly in the throes of winning people over. But does he care? He does not. He keeps an unremitting, almost military beat on the go, scratches up vinyl over the top and, to all intents and purposes, bawls, "Hello, Oxford. F— you. This is a lesson in old-skool hip-hop physics and if you don't like it, tough luck."
To wit, the queue for the bar becomes ten-deep. Until... the turntable technique seminar comes to a halt and Shadow bites off the heads of six small rodents before wielding a Flying-V axe.
A lie obviously, but the sound is now doing all of this and more for him. The crashing, riffing magic of 'High Noon' is upon us, the crowd is whooping the whoop of people who've 'heard this one before', and the genius of the Californian kid who's pulverised all trip-hop competition in the space of one album and a handful of 12"s, slams dramatically back into focus.
Then there's the regal brilliance of 'Organ Donor', sticking rigidly to the way it sounds on his Endtroducing... album. A filmic, woozy interlude comes next, giving way to the gorgeous 'Midnight In A Perfect World', which underlines its unassailable status as the peerless tune to play as the clock strikes midnight and ushers in the year 2000. But save for coming over like a mutated 'Hey Jude' at the end, it also settles for sounding identical to how it's always sounded.
So, it keeps coming back to his records, and that's probably the way it will always be with Shadow. Ultimately, if you care little for his music, you will not be mistaken in concluding that, live, he is absolute rubbish. If, however, you've already been sucked into his matrix of samples, you'll be able to forgive him. You will be served with another reminder of why Endtroducing is an undoubted masterpiece — nothing more, nothing less.
Unsurprisingly, he does not leave the stage in a flash of fireworks...
- Crysell, A. (1997) "DJ Shadow: Oxford Brookes University". New Musical Express. DJ Shadow.