London W1 Embassy Rooms

He still likes to get his fingers in there and, you know, really twiddle those knobs...

Kazumi is gripped by the fear. She’s dancing, her head thrown back, arms flailing like a bad jogger. And then she sings.[I] “The feee-aaaar-eerrrr”[/I], she intones, beautifully, and the violins swirl beneath and there, right at the back, the young man who looks like an ambitious estate agent twiddles some knobs. That’ll be Mike Paradinas, then. 5-Ziq to some, Jake Slazenger to others. Tusken Raiders to fewer. “Daddeeee!” to his excitable daughter in the crowd.

And in contemporary electronica circles, Mike, too, is the Daddy. He and Aphex, expert knob-twiddlers both, they rule the drill’n’bass roost – they invented it, destroyed it and everyone else, in all honesty, is still catching up. Hence the impressive turnout of hardcore fans – wild hair, fashionable leisurewear, solid Japanese contingent – keen to glimpse the ponytailed master at work at this one-off, unlikely-to-be-repeated, early-evening live appearance by Mr 5, a string septet and the patently barmy Japanese warbler Kazumi.

It’s an evening of ‘Royal Astronomy’, which sounds awfully clever and dull, but is, actually, the title of Mike’s latest album. And oh yes, he’s reaching for the stars this time. Easy on the complicated drill’n’bass manoeuvres, massive with the syrupy strings and surging cello scores. Is it grand orchestral modern classicism or pop’s natural, wayward progression?

It’s this conundrum we ponder during the lush staccato schmaltz of imminent single ‘The Fear’ and the swelling faux timpani rumble of ‘Scaling’, only to cast it aside when we realise that Mike hasn’t changed that much at all.

He still likes to get his fingers in there and, you know, really twiddle those knobs, forcing out hard-step acid scramblers like ‘The Motorbike Track’. And, with the delightful ‘World Of Leather’, he could teach Plone a thing or two about the correct use of ‘playful’ analogue squiggles. His sights are set far higher now, though. They have to be. After all, that’s what scene-leaders do.