One night with Sinfonetta, Squarepusher, Jamie Lidell and others - London Royal Festival Hall - March 12, 2004

By: Mike Whyte

Produced as part of the Ether Festival (an annual London event promoting the best in contemporary electronic music); which this year also consists of a rare live showing from the grandfathers of electronic music; Kraftwerk, along with such acts as Plaid and Luke Vibert, it was easy to get excited about this evening's event. It didn’t disappoint either, with the two worlds of classical and contemporary seeming to smack headlong into each other in what must be one of the most interesting and genuinely exciting events I, and from the sound, at least three quarters of the audience, had ever seen.
Split into two segments first we were treated to classical renditions of composers such as Reich, Varese and Antheil, alongside full orchestrations of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin tracks; it was amazing just to hear such a thing being done. This was then followed by a thirty minute Squarepusher set, which from his arrival in top hat and tails to his gentlemanly bow on leaving, was an exercise in sheer noise terrorism. Breathtaking!
Following the break (which included a reworking of the seminal Flex video and rare videos from the likes of Chris Clark) we were treated to more of the Sinfonetta and a live set by Jamie Lidell, who managed to steal the show with a staggering improvised set of pure electronic and vocal trickery – if there is one artist to see this year it is this man! You have seen nothing until you have seen this one man tornado and his stage show; thoroughly deserved the standing ovation given to him at the end of this set.
Finishing with an amazing classical reworking of Aphex Twin's classic “Polygon Window”, complete with eight band members walking off stage and into the crowd with drums for the finale, it is quite easy to say that the standing ovation given at the end of the concert was not just for the concert, but for the festival as a whole – this festival just grows in strength year by year, and can proudly now take its place alongside Barcelona’s Sonar as one electronic festival you just cannot afford to miss.