Ether 2009: Squarepusher

The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre, London - 24 April 2009

"Thank fuck I didn't pay for my ticket"

Squarepusher"Thank fuck I didn't pay for my ticket" was the overriding thought I came away from my first, and unquestionably last, Squarepusher gig. There's a reason that acts like this - though much lauded by the trendy press and in-crowd - haven't filtered through my consciousness. I think I've got a fairly open mind but I really haven't seen such a vacuous and bogus proposition for a live act possibly ever before - at least on the professional circuit. This was like some Nathan Barley joke at the expense of all of those who had paid.

Over the years I've frequently questioned the engaging merits of one bloke either using only a laptop or only a mixer live but I can say that watching a balding music geek play only a bass live represents the nadir of live performance entertainment. Bass player with Cabaret Voltaire, Stephen Mallinder's, solo album Pow Wow Plus was the only album I've ever bought and got rid of the same year. Again, there's a good reason, an immutable law of music at play here: even in the greatest hands, the bass guitar has limited interest-generating potential. And that was well and truly borne out tonight.

Focusing on airing only the turgid material from his latest album Just A Souvenir, this was painful to endure. Some indulgent electronic jazz noodlings on top of what live was more overtly aggressive, almost metal backing tracks (Delta-V, Planet Gear, Tensor In Green) didn't disguise the limited creativity on display and only my ignorance of Squarepusher's wider output stops me writing him off entirely as at all credible live. Sadly, none of the chilled acoustic guitar of tracks like Yes Sequitur (from the same album) were on display tonight. The older stuff reserved for the end of the set was a noticable improvement on the first hour but I still couldn't shake an overwhelming sense of emperor's new clothes about Jenkinson's whole approach.

I only hung on as long as I did out of a sense of decency to my wife who had invested in the tickets (another one of our 'I'll buy the ticket if you're not that bothered' deals we have). Of course, not that 99% of everyone else at the gig would share any of my views and, if they're reading this, would write me off as an ignorant arse; which would be fine by me as there are some things that it's best to be ignorant of. You can include Squarepusher performing his current album live in that. I can't complain about a waste of money but I can complain about a waste of a perfectly good Friday night. Chin-stroking bollocks at the Southbank - not a first. 3/10

Rob Dyer