Sometimes an event occurs that suddenly leaves you with the blinding realisation that conventional gigs – support band, main band, drinks, lights, standing, talking – are just so ordinary. DJ Food and Ninja Tune blew all that out of the water with this interstellar spectacular, a true event where you could look back and say ‘I was there then’.
To be honest that could be said before the main event started. Not many live nights involve the careful coordination of (space) shuttle buses in total darkness, but this did – and more to the point was faultlessly organised by the record label. Arriving early at the unconventional venue on top of the hill in Greenwich Park only added to the attraction, for the Planetarium effectively became the ‘support act’. And what a warm up it was, looking at pictures such as Meteor at Midnight on Glastonbury Tor inside, or heading outside in to the freezing night air to queue for a look at Jupiter, clearly visible with its four moons through a powerful telescope.
Taking our seats in the auditorium it felt like the beginning of a voyage, with flying saucers offered as the appropriate movie snack of choice. The Planetarium staff should be warmly commended too. Not for them the inconvenience of a gig – rather it was a chance to throw themselves enthusiastically into their role as space missionaries, embracing their night time visitors with unbridled enthusiasm.
The last of the three shows began – and even for a second-time visitor to the Planetarium it was breathtaking with its panoramic visions of the night sky, given extra perspective by a run through of DJ Food’s new album. Food (or Strictly Kev as he is known to his mates) gave a short and thoroughly modest introduction, letting his stunning match of music and imagery do the talking. Most memorably as the lyric “The sun is high, I’m surrounded by sand” came in to view on Giant, we were treated to a panoramic view of Mars and what appeared to be the Sahara desert, the view in a giddy three dimensions.
If taken a little coldly the music itself stayed true to DJ Food’s past principles, and served as a reminder of his enduring talent without perhaps providing anything startlingly new – though for the event the music of The Search Engine is given an extra ambience. The projections often divided into two, with a smaller rectangle burning its images into the overall dome, which may have been a bit tricky for those seated at the front. At the back it was no trouble at all, like a computer game window giving you a closer look at the dashboard.
Such observations are mere side-issues mind, as the reality was that the evening thoroughly delivered the goods as a wholly satisfying multimedia spectacle, a truly otherworldly experience, and a triumph for all involved.