Shapeshifter at Metro Theatre – 5th September 2008

Shapeshifter have this really earthy quality to their drum ‘n’ base, with a green and vibrant New Zealand energy to their live sets. Last Friday night at Sydney’s Metro Theatre was a classic example of their legendarily oh-so-dancefriendly performances.

The Metro Theatre, its carpets sticky to the step with thick well-trodden gum, is perfect acoustically for resounding beats and pristine vocals, having once staged a stunning Massive Attack show. Here, energetic and “very happy to be here” (as they kept telling us) Shapeshifter thrived on the dance-hungry passion of their audience and delivered a stunning and pleasingly long set.

With over two hours on stage, the five piece played anthems like “One” alongside well-received new tunes that continue their moving drum ‘n’ base trademark songs. Their sound spiced up with just a dash of reggae, sexy soul and roots, Shapeshifter taunted out the crowd’s dancing energy with “Bring Change” and then launched in to the powerful storm of the song “Skateland Killa”.

Solidly built lead singer Paora Apera (also known as P Digsss) rolled out slinky vocals with perfect enunciation and a languid dub undertone, while drumming machine Redford Grennel steadily pounded out beats. Sipping on VB cans, the audience pulsated with (I reckon, and my Auckland-born ass should know) about 60% ex-pat Kiwi Sydneysiders.

They rolled out their signature song “Long White Cloud” in typically passionate style, with the electronic dub sound shrouding love-sweet lyrics (“feel the rain on my face, it reminds me of you, delicate and open”). Lively bouncing beats backed up synth, alto sax, keyboards, guitar and bass with tracks like “Shakedown”, and shifted smoothly to downbeat for songs like “Been Missing”.

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