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Culture Reviews
Deep Dish
By Alex Meredith
An American-Iranian duo playing a back-street club on a Friday night. It doesn’t sound like a ticket to get Moscow’s clueless clubbers dusting off the sunglasses for a battle with face control. However, when that duo is Deep Dish, one of the most sought after acts on the world club scene, it becomes an unmissable opportunity for the fashionistas to flaunt their latest crimes against good taste. The scrambling crowds around the door, the sour-faced pout of the deevushkas and the visible ascendancy of money over sense all gave proceedings that unmistakably sour elitny flavour. Fortunately the quality of the music was more than enough to compensate, whilst adding a rare touch of substance to the world of hype that is Moscow Clubland.

Featuring some sounds from their recent album “George is on” and a lot more besides, Ali Shirazinia and Sharem Yayebi’s set was lively, accessible and flawlessly delivered. The album fits neatly into the “guitar-house” category, designed for mass consumption and provides a popular soundtrack for the Friday night jig around the handbag back in London. Nevertheless, when performing live, Deep Dish sensibly rely heavily on the more conventional house flavours. This performance achieved the difficult task of mixing up familiar beats with some innovative new material to the delirious satisfaction of a musically conservative crowd. Coaxing them in with the classic rhythms and irresistible crescendos before sending the piano breakdowns crashing all around, the tune-smiths created a genuine euphoric vibe. Also impressive was the way in which these two rulers of the dance floor handed out their musical pronouncements with a lack of imperial self-indulgence. Both appeared to slave over the hot decks and computers with intense concentration etched on their faces throughout. This was the reserved body language of thoughtful leaders who would not be distracted from their quest to provide listening pleasure for their band of faithful followers. It contrasted beautifully with the flamboyance of their comical congregation who were hit so relentlessly with muscle-tweaking tunes that the only responses were deafening cheers and spasmodic salutes.

It is not unusual for Club XII to come up with the goods. This mansion style, single stage club is cosy, with just enough space in the main room to distil an intoxicating atmosphere that is then piped through to the flanking chill-out zones. Though the big name DJs bring out the fashion victims, XIII does not have as much pretension of L’Eto or First, and is more intimate than Fabrique, creating a popular niche. The management have developed this position with familiar names regularly appearing; Pete Tong and John Digweed gave the decks a spin whilst they were in town for Creamfields earlier in the year, and Seb Fontaine was coming in hot on the heels of Deep Dish the following night. These line-ups would establish a club anywhere in the world. In the dance music desert of the Russian capital it makes XIII a shimmering oasis.

This said, two things about the night did strike me as odd. Firstly, there was a ridiculously high number of photographers milling about amongst the revellers. Their continuous intrusion (whether it was forcing their way towards the stage, or jamming their oversize cameras in victim’s faces) was an unnecessary irritation in an otherwise congenial atmosphere. Needless to say, the fame-obsessed Russians were happy to indulge their paparazzi fantasies, but surely even they can get bored of having their photo taken.

Secondly, the three alien costumed dancers on the stairs on the way in appeared to have come to the wrong gig. Maybe I had missed some of the subliminal messages Deep Dish were trying to put across, but what does a bright green, cone headed, 6 winged beetles have to do with anything? With as much utility as an escalator monitor, all this trio of misfits succeeded in doing was to illustrate what pointless operatives might look like in a space age Russian state. It was not a pretty sight.

Meanwhile, the uplifting, precise performance from a dream headliner wrote another chapter in the successful story of XIII’s renaissance. It was also emphatic confirmation that Deep Dish should be experienced live whenever the opportunity arises. Sharing the experience with some particularly spaced-out revellers in fancy dress just made for visual as well as audio entertainment. As starts to a weekend in this city go, I don’t think I’ve had a better one.

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