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Saturday’s dancing took place at the HiFi in the Entertainment Quarter. I believe that it’s down to the licensing restrictions placed on the EQ that the venue has to close at 2am, but it always feels strange to be clubbing from 8:30pm. In other aspects the HiFi is a pretty good venue – the sound is usually very good (especially compared to the Metro) and although it still feels more like a rock venue than a nightclub, it’s better laid out for dance music than many venues of a similar size.

We arrived part way through Nick Arbor and Thomas Knight’s back-to-back warm-up set, with Alana Aldea providing live vocals on some of the tracks. But very soon it was the man behind Enhanced, Will Holland, playing to a busy, but far from packed-out room. The music was a mixture of tunes from Enhanced artists such as Tritonal and cheesy crowd-pleasers like Above & Beyond – Thing Called Love (mashed with Kyau & Albert – Kiksu). Overall it was a fairly bland set, I thought, although I suppose you have to bear in mind that it was still early in the evening and it did help to build the atmosphere without burning people out too soon.

After Will Holland, it was the turn of Estiva. He opened up with a mash-up of several tunes that seemed familiar, but collectively hard to place, although there was definitely a Gareth Emery track in there somewhere. He proceeded to deliver a melodic and very danceable set based mostly around well known tunes: Cosmic Gate – Be Your Sound, Oceanlab – Satellite, Oceanlab vs Gareth Emery – On A Good Day (Metropolis), Andrew Rayel feat. Jano – How Do I Know?, Dash Berlin – Waiting, Porter Robinson – Language and Above & Beyond – Sun & Moon.

This last song is still being played by far too many DJs – in fact we heard it three times in the same night – and it’s really time they left it at home … cheesy and shamelessly commercial, it sums up everything that’s wrong about what trance has become as it heads for the mainstream and chart success. Thankfully there are still great artists out there keeping the flame of real trance burning bright. But tonight wasn’t a night for the likes of Aly & Fila, John O’Callaghan, Solarstone, Giuseppe Ottaviani or any of the Team 140 (or even Who’s Afraid of 138?) DJs or their acolytes and devotees.

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Beat Service took over from Estiva and upped the tempo immediately with his remix of Armin van Buuren feat. Fiora – Waiting For The Night. I’d been really looking forward to catching Beat Service as I’m a fan of the tunes he has on Markus Schulz’s Prague ’11 and Los Angeles ’12 albums – Outsider and Fortuna. And we heard both those tunes in a set that started out with the kind of drive needed to lift the night towards a climax.

But I felt he lost his way, dropping too many commercial and/or hackneyed tunes: Delirium – Silence (W&W Remix), Gareth Emery – Concrete Angel and Above & Beyond – Sun & Moon (aaaggghhh!!!). There was still room for some better stuff, such as Markus Schulz feat. Ana Diaz – Nothing Without Me, but he would have been much better advised, in my opinion, to stick to that Coldharbour vibe than veering into the popular crowd-pleasers that don’t distinguish him from any other DJ in particular. Having said all that, I did think that Beat Service’s was the best set of the night. It was at least well paced and got the best response from the crowd, which strangely seemed to thin out a little after the headliner took over from him.

Daniel Kandi was the final DJ of the night and he played what I felt was a rather disjointed set. Hard to put my finger on exactly why I felt this way, but I think it was that the set lacked a sense of direction. Much like the other DJs on the night, he did nothing to really set him apart from any other DJ or that you could truly identify as being his own distinctive style. We heard Arty & Mat Zo – Rebound, Mark Eteson feat. Audrey Gallagher – Breathe On My Own (Daniel Kandi Remix), which I really like, and Susana – Home. But although we avoided hearing Sun & Moon yet again, we were given the night’s second outing of Above & Beyond – Thing Called Love. And if there is a song that I dislike more than Sun & Moon, it must be Armin van Buuren’s latest single, featuring the vocals of Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like, which Kandi closed the set with. There was time for an encore, John O’Callaghan – Big Sky, but not a great remix of it, to be honest.

I think I’ve been fairly critical of all the DJs and yet it was a reasonably enjoyable night – much better than last year’s Armada Night at the same venue, I’d say. I would definitely have preferred to hear more material from the Enhanced label and less from Anjunabeats but the good tunes outweighed the bad and there was a nice vibe in the HiFi. Genesis has also massively improved on the production side since they last held an event there – the lasers and lights really adding to the experience and creating a sense of show about the night.

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