This was one of the NME/Carling Awards events and they weren't going to let you forget that, not for a second. The moving projections were EVERYWHERE, covering almost every square inch of the walls and ceiling of the Astoria. Posters, hanging banners, flyers and stickers - even in the toilet for Christ's sake! We get the message okay!?
Support came from a bloke under the guise of 'Microprocessor', clad in his yellow chemical suit and helmet. The sound effects of 80s video game Frogger signalled the start of one track that went into a deep, dark bassline and ear shattering snare drums and hi hats. With his slippery dancing and headset microphone, Microprocessor blended electro breakbeats and contemporary dance rhythms resulting in music for an X-Files rave.
With the new Aphex Twin album Drukqs having been released justa few days before this gig, I was looking forward to hearing new Aphex Twin material. What I got, on the other hand, was a DJ set only. Had I known in advance that this was all that was on offer, then I wouldn't have bothered with a ticket. In all the pre-gig publicity and promotion there was no suggestion whatsoever that this would be a DJ set. Even the tickets failed to mention it. With all the press that had been heaped upon Drukqs in the weeks running up to this gig, I'm sure many were in the same position - expecting a live gig. Promoters NME/Carling and sponsors Radio 1 should be ashamed of themselves for such blatant mis-selling.
As for DJ set, whilst there's no doubting Richard James' impressive technique, the set was a rambling affair, roping in drum n bass, dub, 80s electro pop (in a medley mixing together The Eurythmics, Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode and Front 242 among others). In spite of the packed-out Astoria, the only visible signs of Richard James for most punters were largely confined to the top of James' head and the occasional hand. After one hour, I'd had enough, felt cheated and left. As I did, I passed through the upstairs bar lounge. Here, the DJ was spinning a far more funky set. I paused and noticed that Jamiroqui's Jay Kay was responsible for the tune. Frankly, I'd rather have listened to this for an hour than Richard James' set, and I normally loathe Jamiroqui. A major disappointment, and as for the promoters, they deserve a good beating.