Off to Sydney’s Metro Theatre for our New Year helping of trance.  A packed bill, with four international DJs, plus the usual helping of Sydney’s locals.  This was the meat in our NYE sandwich, with visits to the Nos for BBQ fun and recovery nonsense either side.  So we arrived at the Metro around 10:30 pm, in time for the start of First State’s set.

The first thing I noticed was that the sound in the main room was even worse than usual.  It’s a common viewpoint that the sound in the Metro is pretty rubbish.  Everyone agrees and if it wasn’t for the lack of alternative venues of the same size, I suspect it wouldn’t be booked so often.  The only comparable venue, the Hi-Fi (formerly the Forum) has a 2:00 am curfew, making it far from ideal for trance (or any other kind of dance) parties.  This time, in addition to the muddiness we are used to on the floor (it’s usually much better if you move to the back, by the sound desk), there was a nasty vibration coming from the bass speaker on the right of the stage.

But it was actually the music that First State played that prompted us to move into the bar to listen to Big J and Dejan play a set full of classics (Carte Blanche, As The Rush Comes, Blue Fear).  All I can really say about First State is that it didn’t sound like trance to my ears and every tune sounded much like the last.  I hadn’t come with any expectations about First State, so I can’t really say that I was disappointed, but I did enjoy dancing in the bar with the other refugees from the main room.

Back into the main room for midnight and Arnej.  Again, I didn’t really know what to expect, but Arnej delighted us.  Dark Coldharbour-style trance that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a Markus Schulz set, reminding me of twelve months earlier in the same venue with the Unicorn Slayer himself.  The sound was still pretty bad, but we stayed close to the sound desk to make the best of it.  It’s also worth saying that we were impressed by the lights and lasers that accompanied the tunes.  There’s no doubt that lasers and trance music make a particularly good combination.

When Arnej wrapped up at 1:30 am, we were expecting to see Eddie Halliwell, but instead it was Nick Arbor and someone else I didn’t recognise who took over behind the decks.  It seems Eddie must have been delayed and he didn’t start until about 2:15.  And what a let-down he was.  None of the mixing pyrotechnics for which he is so well known and not even much by way of engagement with the audience.  And even allowing for the muddy mid-ranges and distorting bass, there was obviously something missing from his set – melodies or any recognisable tunes.  So for a second time in the night, we left to find out what was going on in the bar area.  And again there were many refugees from the main arena, dancing to more familiar trance tunes.

We moved back to the main room and, at around 3:30 am, Eddie Halliwell finished off his set and John 00 Fleming took the stage.  The perfect DJ to close off a night like this, it’s been about two and a half years since we’d last seen Fleming in Sydney, as his usual August visits co-incide with our trips to London.  So I was really looking forward to hearing what he had in store for us.  And there’s no doubt it was a great set. But the sound problems continued to spoil the night.  When the DJ is playing the kind of bass lines that J00F specialises in, you really don’t wanted distorted bass.  For long periods the sound desk seemed to avoid the distortion by turning down the volume and this didn’t help matters either.  That said, I did enjoy the two hour set that J00F played and the game of chase that Chico played in order to get his photo taken with his hero at the end was an amusing little side note.  Thanks for the lift back to the Nos, Chico and Maribel!

Overall, I did enjoy the night, but not as much as I would have without the sound problems.  And I was sufficiently disappointed by Eddie Halliwell to say that I won’t bother to go out of my way to see him in future.  Another one to put on the list of “used to be greats”.