Sat Dec. 10, 2016

Squarepusher's Shobaleader One (GB)

Tom Jenkinson: bass
Keyboards, guitar, drums tba
Support: nebenzimmer session x PHANDA

Squarepusher's Shobaleader One at Gorilla review
"Witnessing the intricacies of the songs played with such dexterity, at times the only thing left to do is laugh" - Alan Wragg is consumed by the Shobaleader One experience.

Following a couple of preview gigs last year, Squarepusher brings his much-anticipated band, Shobaleader One, to Gorilla.

Do you know Squarepusher? Whether as a nineties Acid Freak, an IDM Aphex-botherer, a Baroque-tinged bass virtuoso or LED-fuelled EDM Fire-fighter, Tom Jenkinson has always blazed his own trail. Being a single-minded agitator meant always working alone. That was until 2010, when he formed a band.

Shobaleader One:d’Demonstrator allowed Jenkinson to write for a band setup and feed off like-minded musicians. After a couple of gigs, Tom moved back to the studio and pushed on with his solo work.

But the idea of a collective setup stayed with him. After experimenting with a robot band - Music For Robots, and pushing his solo live shows to stunning maximalist heights, Tom has decided to revisit the band dynamic.

“The battle must be continued outside of the box.” The resulting live show is nothing short of spellbinding.

Jenkinson is joined on stage by a guitarist, keyboardist and drummer of incredible ability. Kitted out in the curved LED masks that Squarepusher has been using live they have an imposing presence, and as heavy dub intro starts the anticipation is palpable. The song explodes with an incredible display of drummer virtuosity, and the room is blown wide open.

Jenkinson is a renowned jazz bassist, and the gig blooms into the heaviest of jazz fusion performances. The performance at times moves into dub, drum and bass, funk-rock and even skweee territory, but always comes back to a base of solid jazz fusion, augmented by the heaviest, punchiest production.

This is not the most fashionable of music styles, and it’s something that a good deal of the audience might never bother to try out were it not for the Squarepusher draw, but live it’s completely infectious and quickly converts any doubters.

As the gig progresses we’re treated to re-workings of tracks from Ultravisitor and others. It is difficult to ID individual tracks, as each time they had been entirely reworked to the bands advantage, using the dynamics of live instruments and the spectacle of incendiary instrumental solos to full effect.

There are moments where the songs take on a super fast lounge-acid style, akin to his Hello Everything album, and witnessing the intricacies of the songs played with such dexterity, at times the only thing left to do is laugh. The band is incredibly tight, clearly very well rehearsed, and playing as a unit rather than Squarepusher plus three session musicians.

Towards the end of the show the band showcased moments of raw hardcore punk and Zepplin-esque freakouts. The pace slows a bit, the songs still tight but the band are looking tired. The Manchester crowd greet the encore with a roar, and you get the feeling that Tom doesn’t regret picking out Manchester for this short tour.

The show was an incredible success for the band, as proof of concept that the live dynamic can really add to the Squarepusher experience. Where Jenkinson goes next, only he knows.