Given it'd sound daft and just wouldn't work, most electronic acts can't and don't try to perform 'fully' or 'properly' live. But, as far as ATL is concerned, there's two things they can do to stand out. First, they need to tear their tracks inside out and make them perfectly reworked for a dark, sweaty room full of lunatics. Then they need a striking visual show, preferably incorporating some kind of vaguely daft gimmick. A pyramid of lights, perhaps. Or glasses with little lights on them.
So here's DJ Shadow in the Ulster Hall, performing inside what looks like a giant paper-mache death star. His sphere is a canvas for all sorts of sinister visuals, from an exploding Su-Bo to chainsaw-armed cartoon monsters on the rampage. Eventually the sphere opens and our hero is revealed as a type of glowing, sparkling giant getting down to business inside his small but perfectly pimped-out garden shed. Apologies if that sounds a bit rubbish, it's not meant to. It really, really worked.
As for the music? Those tracks we know and love from Endtroducing and The Private Press are destroyed. In the best possible way. Walkie Talkie is barely recognisable, now a cut n' paste, bass heavy monstrosity. High Noon is a bit special, that riff shining through the carnage. There's a heap of drum n' bass, touches of dubstep and techno and very little in the way of hip hop.
In short - the unexpected.
As flowers slowly grow on the Ulster Hall stage, Stem is welcome respite, reworked to sound a little left of centre, captivating and gorgeous. Even a couple of those new tracks (completed literally a few days previous) are very promising indeed. One in particular, a barbed, noisy four-note loop could have gone on for as long as he pleased. It's already an astonishing performance long before an encore, during which something very, very special happens.
Six days previous, ATL half-joked with Shadow about how he should play a certain riff on that famous, 160-year-old Mulholland pipe organ. Next thing we know promoters in Belfast get calls from management, logistics are discussed, strings pulled and permissions eventually granted. At approximately 11.30pm, DJ Shadow played the opening bars from Organ Donor on a proper, classic pipe organ, for the first time ever. Granted you could barely hear it (it may be big, but it's not built to compete with 1200 people making as much noise as humanly possible) but it's almost irrelevant - this was something only Belfast will experience. What a gesture, what a treat.
Then he was back in his shed in time to kickstart the track proper, as Belfast collectively high-fived itself and celebrated two of the finest hours of electronica it's ever experienced.