Shapeshifter represents New Zealand to me – festivals, trips to the Coromandel with friends, New Years, Big Day Out, beaches and beer. Hearing Bring Change can, in an instant, remind me of everything I love and miss about New Zealand; they’ve been the soundtrack to years and years worth of summers. So, as you can imagine, I was somewhat apprehensive about seeing them perform in my new hometown of Melbourne. How would a group that is so intrinsically ‘New Zealand’ fare in the land of New Zealanders’ most natural enemy?
Arriving in the nick of time (everything starts so early over here), I entered the breathtaking Forum (think St James-meets-The Civic) in downtown Melbourne just as the beginning notes of Dutchies filled the near-capacity venue. With that familiar heart altering sound of P-Diggs welcoming me to the ride and advising me to ‘hold on’, I decided that I would put the locality aside and believe that Shapeshifter’s live magic was strong enough to convince me that it knows no boundaries – and they undoubtedly did just that.
It’s hard to deny the fact that the show had a very different vibe from what I’m used to – I’ve never seen Shapeshifter live in an indoor venue, you know, with four walls and a roof. But the power of the performance didn’t suffer a second for it. P-Diggs, as always, was a spectacle. Nothing warms my heart like seeing him belting out the beautiful music his voice was genetically designed to sing. He never fails to bring that intense energy to the stage, and tonight was no exception. The opening few “beeps” to announce the beginning of Electric Dream sent the crowd into fits, and after that, the excitement seemed to be uncontainable.
While P-Diggs will always be the star of any Shapeshifter show, Nick Robinson and Sam Trevethick aka the guys on the keyboards, brought a contagious enthusiasm to the stage which was thrilling to watch. Anyone who so obviously loves performing their music as much as I love watching it deserves all the praise I can give. It was Shapeshifter at its finest, and oh how fine that can be. The beat, the creative synth, the easy flow, the constant contrasts, the feeling and the sentiment. This seems like a cop out for a reviewer, but it really does seem beyond words.
The boys did seem to say “this is our last song” an awful lot during the last 45 minutes of the show. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good encore as much as the next person, but when it gets to encore song number nine, I do start getting a bit antsy. I know it can create a certain energy within a crowd to keep them on their toes, but as soon as I predict a show is winding down, I start planning my escape route. It’s probably because I’m a control freak, but I don’t like being lied to about when a show is ending – it takes away from my appreciation when I’m constantly worried about whether this really is the last song. But if my only complaint is that a show was slightly too long, then it really does seem that I’m reaching at straws.
New Zealand's best live act is an extraordinary spectacle you can't miss.
Shapeshifter has been heralded as a musical phenomenon on their ground breaking live shows and unique blend of heavy soul/drum and bass. Their reputation as pioneers of modern music was built by an unique approach to electronic music which had previously been restricted to computer based studio musicians and has earned them widespread critical and commercial acclaim.
Their third studio album 'Soulstice' was released in August 2006, it entered the NZ national charts at a remarkable number 4 and spent over 2 months in the New Zealand top 20, they also reached number 1 on the independent charts. In 2006 they were awarded a phenomenal 3 awards at the New Zealand bNet music awards for Best Live Act, Song Of The Year for 'Bring Change' and Album Of The Year for 'Soulstice'.