Amassing a reputation as a truly premiere clubbing location across the space of the past 12-24 months, London’s Printworks venue is quite simply – a nightlife spot like no other. A grimey disused warehouse set across an industrial estate in East London, you’d be forgiven for associating this setting with anything other than the glitz and glamour associated with EDM’s biggest acts. Primarily a strictly techno-only venue, Printworks has been used as a home for the likes of Paul Kalkbrenner, and Jamie Jones, since transforming into a 6,000 capacity dance music location, but with November now marking a seemingly annual dip into the waters of EDM – following Steve Angello‘s set at the location in 2017 – 2018 heralded the much anticipated UK return of deadmau5. Making fleeting visits to the pre-Brexit island, the Mau5 – real name Joel Zimmerman, has headlined Clapham’s SW4 Festival in both 2017 and 2014, but fans would have to travel all the way back to Earls Court in 2010 for Joel’s last headline performance in the capital.
The first thing that immediately strikes the first-time visitor to Printworks is the true unique nature of such a venue within Great Britain. Whilst more central London locations pride themselves on the decadent VIP table service of iconic clubs like Ministry of Sound, here lies a building that echoes eery haunts of Berlin’s iconic Berghain, and the minimalistic German techno genre which has dominated the city for decades. Piling through the former loading bay, where lorries would pick up freshly printed newspapers from the now slowly-dying newspaper print trade, the crowds made their way through a converted cloakroom and into the grungy, yet staggering, main room. There are few venues across the world which can leave attendees in open-jaw awe for the first hour of the night – Ibiza superclubs included – but Printworks is certainly a pioneer; a hidden gem of East London’s suburbs, that shines brighter than even her most glitzy English cousins.
Striding into a main room so long, yet narrow, it could easily be mistaken for a steel-clad Cathedral, Printworks prides itself on what appears to be a mile of space between the floor, and neck-strain inducing high-ceiling. Where most rivals would fill this void with 3/4 floors of Mezzanines and VIP balconies, Printworks is a drawback to the days of old. A place to dance, and nothing more. So simplistically brilliant, that it is surely now setting the tone for every competing venue to learn from. Through the darkness, a star shined bright. House hero OFFAIAH was warming up for the Mau5, and with the gathered hoards starting to sway their hips rhythmically, the popular producer dropped an extended intro edit of his 2016 whopper ‘Trouble’, a truly global hit – accompanied by viral dance craze ‘The Ski’ – which has helped forge the producer’s name to such levels as this moment.
But with the DEFECTED artist’s set beating out into a gradual close, a ripple of cheer moved from front to back like a Mexican wave as a skinny figure in a baseball cap started to fiddle with the on-stage Macbook next to him, and at the stroke of midnight, Printworks was plunged into darkness – albeit briefly – as a jaw-dropping visual began to shoot red lasers into a ‘loading pattern’ on a gigantically tall and slender LED screen stretching between the decks and ceiling. With Joel enjoying a famously close bromance with the man he affectionately labels ‘ERK’, aka Eric Prydz, you’d be forgiven for believing the pair had traded several conversations about their visual effects, such was the mesmeric nature of the deadmau5 FX package on offer. Lacing the first quarter of his two-hour set with the deep techno sounds of his Testpilot alter-ego, a sound fitting for such a venue, stunning strobes illuminated the darkness in a style that only Pryda’s HOLO show could rival.
On the half-hour mark, the night changed. The lights came up, the visuals moved from atmospheric and brooding, to in-your-face and animated, as a cacophony of roars greeted the moment the crowd’s EDM aficionados had anticipated. The giant mouse ears and bulging LED eyes of Joel’s Mau5-head burnt a never-ending stare through the crowd… deadmau5 had arrived! Displaying a flurry of his biggest hits, including ‘Maths’, ‘Sometimes Things Get, Whatever’, ‘Raise Your Weapon’, and fan-favourite ‘Ghosts ‘N’ Stuff’, the biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the introduction of ‘Monophobia’. One of Joel’s more recent hits, released in summer 2018, the track – featuring the vocals of Pendulum‘s Rob Swire – has seemingly cemented a reputation as a bonafide deadmau5 classic already.
As the Canadian flitted between his various styles, taking off the helmet once more in the final quarter, he stood in only the way Joel can – cigarette in mouth – as the chords of his 8-minute anthem ‘Strobe’ rang around the press halls. Fully selling out the 6,000 capacity, deadmau5′ Printworks show not only served up the producer’s unrivalled talent as a main dish for all to feast on, but also became the blueprint for the level of effort all artists should be placing on their live shows when it comes to providing fans with a visual spectacular.
— Jake Gable (@JournoJake) November 17, 2018