DJ Shadow @ O2 ABC Glasgow, 20 July

Live Review by Claire Francis | 25 Jul 2016

The rumble of floor-quaking bass announces Joshua Paul Davis, aka DJ Shadow, to the gloom of the O2 ABC. Barely visible on the dimly lit stage, our maestro builds a slow, dark, ambient intro. It's just past 9pm, and he remains unhurried, mounting his charge with the practiced patience of an artist who knows exactly how his cards will fall.

Cuts from latest release The Mountain Will Fall come early in the set – "This is one of the new ones," Davis announces to a cavalcade of skittering beats, flitting between drum machine and deft flicks of the turntable. A constant stream of tripped-out graphics flood the screens flanking the stage – pop art tigers lope in time to the beat and spinning figures fall through the air in a nostalgic Bond/Mad Men homage. Images of lush rainforests then appear, and a clear-running mountain river. Neither grandiose nor groundbreaking, the visuals nonetheless make a fitting companion to the show; understated and considered, much like DJ Shadow himself.

An as-yet unreleased Hudson Mohawke remix shows off Shadow's remarkable scratching talents; the show begins to gather momentum and swaying bodies draw closer to the stage. Curls of red smoke twist across a black screen as the psychedelic strains of Six Days then waft out into the darkness, before Listen (featuring the legendary Terry Reid) forms one of the show's most poignant moments, with stylised flowers beamed across the black screens. The carefully crafted mood of introspection thus set, Davis pauses to speak to his eager audience.

"Sometimes I don't know whether I should talk more, or not talk, but sometimes I feel like I should express my appreciation," he admits to whoops of adulation from the crowd. "These are fucked up times we're living in – music is a healing force," he continues. "I come from the States and shit is just as fucked up there as it is here... even more so." Cue the bombastic thump of Nobody Speak, Shadow's collaboration with Run The Jewels, to drive home the collective disillusionment. 

Chants of 'Shadow, Shadow, Shadow' draw our leading man back for an encore, and the trifecta of Organ Donor/Midnight In A Perfect World/ The Mountain Will Fall seamlessly melds the DJ Shadow of old with the promise of the new. An amazingly deft DJ, and a humble, magnanimous onstage presence, a single grievance worth levelling is that such a compelling show feels stifled by the early hour and static venue – leaving us to lament the loss of late-night venue The Arches for performances of this sonic magnitude.