It’s been over three years since DJ Shadow was last in Cleveland and almost 4 since his last studio release (2006’s ‘The Outsider’). Performing from inside a giant orb dubbed the Shadowsphere- the centerpiece for his current tour- Shadow did not disappoint the crowd that came out to House of Blues Thursday night (11.18.10).
DJ Shadow performed tracks from his catalog, going back to his debut album, which made the Guinness World Records for First Completely Sampled Album, 1996’s ‘Endtroducing….’ and even previewed new material for his upcoming album (slated for release in early 2011).
Images were projected on to both the flat screen behind him and the Shadowsphere, creating an eye-popping 3-D effect to coincide with the music. The set began with “Prague” after a green satellite image zeroed in on Cleveland and displayed surveillance-style images of the city, causing the already excited crowd to applaud in approval. During the well-known “Organ Donor,” Shadow invited everyone to jump up and down and “hum along if you know the words.” Other highlights included “The Number Song,” “High Noon,” and “Transmission.”
While DJ Shadow did not disappoint, the real star of the show was the Shadowsphere. Large enough to fit the turntable phenom and his equipment, the sphere served as a spaceship and time machine flying through a world of time-lapse photography and colorful imagery. Cameras set up on the inside projected images mimicking windows and allowed the audience to see inside the mysterious vessel. With an opening on one side, the sphere allowed DJ Shadow to reveal himself for several performances then quickly hide himself again for the sphere to morph into everything from planets in a starry sky to a baseball being hit out of the park. With this performance, DJ Shadow and his sphere succeeded in engaging the audience while performing a genre that often makes it difficult to remain accessible.
The accessibility went one step further with a full-featured iPhone application that allowed audience members to upload pictures, comment on the performance and connect with Twitter followers and other fans around the world.
Opening for DJ Shadow was west coast MC Pigeon John. Flanked by two lovely ladies, Pigeon John brought his sunny brand of So-Cal hip hop to the cold air of Cleveland last night. Performed tracks included “The Bomb,” which includes the hilarious line “Come on everybody won’t you clap your hands / White folks do it on time if you can” (recalling a similar line from Morris Day and the Time’s, “The Bird”), and fast-paced “Money Back Guarantee,” about a regular guy- “no pimp or athlete or hip hop star”- trying to pick up a girl in a club. Energetically bouncing up and down for most of his hour long set, the hip hopper paused briefly to allow his co-performers to sing parts of well-known popular tunes as interludes. The girls onstage nearly stole the show with their beautiful harmonies and flirtatious dancing. The set warmed up the crowd with California-style levity and fun, since it’s hard to take anyone seriously who claims to be “so gangsta.”
Pigeon John’s latest album, ‘Dragon Slayer’ is available now. For more information about Pigeon John, visit: www.pigeonjohn.com.