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A little under a year since his last visit to Sydney, John 00 Fleming returned for a five hour set at his favourite venue down under – the Cave, at the Chinese Laundry. I’d not hugely enjoyed the set he played last September, but I do know how good he can be, so despite some misgivings (our last visit had been somewhat marred by the over-zealous yellow-jacketed security), we got ourselves into the Cave nice and early, so as not to miss a beat.

Fleming often comments how much he likes playing in the Cave and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a smallish shoebox-shaped room, with low ceilings, several pillars and a small, unelevated, DJ booth located in one corner. There’s no flashing lights, lasers, screens or anything visual – it’s all about the music and the sound system is very good. It’s just the kind of down-to-earth, unpretentious space that suits J00F and his style of trance. Since our last visit, they have even improved the ventilation and the air-conditioning does a pretty good job of keeping the heat down. Unfortunately, the yellow-jackets are still too much in evidence, wandering through the room regularly, looking for what, I have no idea. At least they didn’t have one of their number standing on the DJ booth throughout the night, like they did last year.

J00F arrived at the appointed hour, 11pm, to much excitement in the still-filling room. And over the next five hours he took us all on an incredible journey that quite surpassed any set of his I’ve heard live before. Starting deep and techno, he slowly drew us in and started adding layers of melody to the driving beats. Only occasionally did we hear any vocals, like when he dropped a remix of iiO – Rapture.

Moving through progressive trance towards the 140 BPM range, he was entrancing me with so many tunes I didn’t recognise, but just loved. And with his wide-mouthed, beaming smile, you could tell he was loving it too. The moment when the dancefloor really went wild was when he dropped Tiësto – Suburban Train. With about 75 minutes of the five hours left, he now moved more firmly into psy-trance territory, playing tunes like Liquid Soul – I See The Spirit.

With our last bus home due to leave at 4am, we had to leave ten minutes early, but we contemplated missing the bus and staying to the end, so good was the music. I could easily have enjoyed another hour or two like this, and would have been jealous of the Melbourne trance community who had been treated to an 8-hour J00F set the night before, had I not been told by people at both events that the Sydney set was better, despite being shorter.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before I get another chance to catch John 00 Fleming in a nightclub somewhere around the world. But we’ll definitely be there the next time he plays the Cave – a venue more suited to him is difficult to imagine.

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