There was a slight change in the Great Escape format to last year. This year, wristbanded people who had forked out their cash to attend the festival were expected to pay an extra charge to see some acts, including all the headliners, as places at those gigs were offered to the unwristbanded public as well. I thought it was a pretty terrible thing to do actually.
Regardless, I headed to the DJ Shadow set on the Thursday night with the ring of acclaim sounding through my skull, as the iconic Shadowsphere tour is drenched in critical fluid. I was not disappointed. The basic premise for the show is that there is a giant orb on the stage, which looked rather splendid in the opulent Brighton Dome setting. Projected upon a screen that fills the entire backdrop of the stage are a series of images and videos, which feature all manner of interesting settings and set-pieces.
A second projector illuminates the sphere itself, which is designed with the backdrop in mind. The end result is a brilliant experimentation of shape, perception and depth, with highlights such as the earth spinning in space and a factory producing a metal ball proving quite spectacular. These impressive visuals are all perfectly synchronised with the music too.
Of course, no gig review would be complete without a mention of the setlist, which was exemplary. Twisting old Shadow classics into contemporary beats; morphing sombre trip hop tunes into floor-filling anthems, Shadow had the enthusiastic, but largely immobile, crowd wrapped around his finger.
The icing on the cake was the moments when Shadow revealed himself from the orb, first with silhouetted teasers, then a wave from the roof, before finally spinning the whole sphere 180 degrees to complete the set facing the audience. The cherry on that icing was the 25 minute encore, comprised almost entirely of unusual songs, from classical jazz to recent hip hop hits. Great Job.