Earls Court, London, 18 December 2010
at Earls Court, there are constant reminders that Deadmau5
is without doubt the best-branded act in dance music today.
Mau5 branding is everywhere, from posters to t-shirts to
fluorescent mouse ears which are adorning hundreds of ravers'
heads. A few fans have even made their own full-sized replica
Deadmau5 masks, showing the fervour created by Canadian
producer Joel Zimmerman, who has managed to make himself
possibly the only new stadium dance act to emerge over the
Magnetic Man's pop dubstep set and an uninspiring
set from Zane Lowe ("Oggy, oggy, oggy!"
he shouts over Darude's Sandstorm) a sheeted
ghost walks across the stage and up to the control deck.
The decibels are upped massively from the support slot levels
and kick drums pound ribcages as a Super Mario featuring
Deadmau5 video game features on screen.
famous mouse mask is on as filtered melodies sear through
the air to be joined by huge kick-heavy drops. It's a formula
he's been criticised for - all the man needs is an arpeggiated
melody and he's got another hit - but it works and the amassed
Mau5 fans love it.
are prolonged moments when Zimmerman relies on little more
than a kick drum, which makes for uninspiring listening
at times. But thankfully he manages to dig out a couple
of his amazing melodies in the nick of time while continuing
to fry retinas with his searing light show. That includes
the lights on his ultra-high-tech, über-expensive mask
which mutate and flash random shapes and expressions. He
even flashes the crowd a smile at one point. Literally.
Criticisms of being a one-dimensional artist are then put
to bed by the detailed and highly creative vocal number,
Raise Your Weapon, which twists and turns its way from a
piano ballad into an anthemic dubstep monster.
masked Mau5 then runs through the crowd on a suspended walkway
to play the next track on a giant transparent touchscreen
sequencer. It makes for quite a sight as he seemingly controls
every element of the track through this oversized translucent
iPad. He then returns to the stage to be joined by Sofia
Toufa, the vocalist name-checked on Sofi Needs
A Ladder, which she launches into with her attitude-fuelled
raps. Zimmerman even obliges mid-song by handing her a stepladder.
entertainment value is upheld as the LEDs on the mask contort
to form an evil face that does a Thriller-style cackle to
introduce Ghosts 'n Stuff before the ravey floor-pleaser
ends with what looks like a Windows crash. Of course it's
just a joke - the cheeky mouse!
are no doubt a hundred back-up plans to prevent such a technical
fault as the Canadian's mask then mouths along to Sometimes
Things Get, Whatever, before the control pod he stands in
glows with giant red lips that sing the words to hit single,
I Remember. It's all visually impressive and musically it
proves hypnotic as well, especially when epic crowd favourites
like Strobe uplift and batter by equal measure.
removed his high-tech head and waved goodbye to the crowd,
Zimmerman responds to the cries for more with a doom-laden
track featuring grinding synths and mellow chords and an
acidic banger to finally bring the set to a close.
proceedings actually made the ugly, soulless car park that
is Earls Court seem like it was being used for its true
purpose; as a dirty underground rave, or a slightly grubby
commercial one at least. As for Deadmau5, he proved himself
musically by combining elements of rap-led dubstep, trance
and electronica and, in spite of being too kick-happy and
stepping into some inane Afrojack-styled 'screech-dance'
at times, managed to provide an audiovisual feast for the
senses. It was a show guaranteed to increase both album
and merchandise sales. Merry Christmau5!
Ian Roullier, 12/2010