The line-up for the Atlantis event persuaded us that we had to be there. With a world exclusive debut of Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella, a first chance to experience Giuseppe Ottaviani’s new Live 2.0 concept and, of course, an opportunity to hear Aly & Fila, we really felt this was an event not to be missed. On the other hand, the location at Sydney’s Olympic Park and the real prospect of a curtailed night at the whim of the NSW police were real deterrents. As it happens, we managed to find a way of making the travelling easy and the event was allowed to run its course.

I’ll come to the music later, but I have to start by talking about the crowd. Simply put, it was vile and feral beyond belief. It’s probably beyond the ability of promoters and venues to stamp out the most disgusting behaviour, but I don’t believe that they are really interested in trying. Massive efforts are put in to stop people bringing in bags over A4 in size but no effort at all is made to persuade people to keep their clothes on once inside. I realise that people have put weeks of effort at the gym and lots of steroids down their throats in order to look buff for the big event, but that doesn’t make anyone else want to have their sweaty torsos rubbed against them continually while everyone tries to dance. Or tries to stand up – I lost count of the number of people seriously struggling to stay vertical, even as early as 11pm. Of course lots of people had even given up trying to stand and had simply decided to sit down in groups in the middle of the dance floor.

Trance events used to be full of PLUR, but tonight there was only aggression as people barged their way through crowds that were not so packed that they couldn’t slip through politely had they wished. Worst of all was the number of people throwing two fingers at the no smoking laws. Yes, there were a few security guards patrolling who asked some people to put their cigarettes out. But this is completely ineffective as a way of stamping out the practice. There should be a “no second chances” policy of removing people caught smoking – after all, they aren’t so lenient on people they spot consuming other drugs and I see no reason why nicotine (a far more anti-social drug, after all) should be given a special status.

The Allphones arena is a huge space and the production and sound was on a suitably vast scale to match. The sound was really impressive and the production spectacular, with torch-flame bursts and fireworks added to the lights, visuals and lasers. We stuck close to the front, which meant that a lot of the visual side of things was lost on us. But it did give us a bit more room to move and to avoid the worst excesses of the roided-up shirtless narcissists. We arrived during Ørjan Nilsen‘s set, and was generally unimpressed with it, even if the young crowd seemed to enjoy his EDM-style sound, including remixes of Dash Berlin – Waiting and Ørjan Nilsen – Violetta that had had all semblance of trance mixed out of them.

I was really looking forward to hearing the new live concept, Live 2.0, from Giuseppe Ottaviani. Not only would he be playing live, but at least some of the set was going to be completely original, composed and created on-the-fly – according to the publicity beforehand, anyway. And the set started with a bang, as he dropped the unmistakeable melody of Three Drives – Greece 2000. The crowd responded enthusiastically as he introduced Giuseppe Ottaviani – Crossing Lights, based around a sample recorded at traffic lights in Sydney last year. Among other tunes I recognised, we heard Eric Prydz – Opus (Pure NRG Remix) and Paul van Dyk feat. Sue McLaren – Lights (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix). I’m not sure I’m completely convinced as yet about this Live 2.0 format as I couldn’t really tell the difference between a tune I just didn’t recognise and one that he’d never played before. But I’m sure that a musician as talented as Giuseppe will make it work for him and perhaps a longer set time would have given him more scope.

Next up was MaRLo. The Dutch/Australian DJ is straight out of the Armada stable of DJs, highly rated by Armin van Buuren but generally a little too mainstream for my tastes. He started with remixes of Robert Miles – Children and Tiësto – Love Comes Again but we needed a toilet and drinks break and to rest our legs before the last two acts, so we sat out most of the set, which was fair enough as I wasn’t enjoying MaRLo’s sound. However he was getting a big reaction from the crowd (but this wasn’t my type of crowd, see above). He also dropped Markus Schulz feat. Ana Diaz – Nothing Without Me and, possibly because Ørjan hadn’t done so, Ørjan Nilsen – Between The Rays. I was very happy when the set came to a finish as I was very excited by what was coming next.

 started back in 1999 as a production collaboration between Ferry Corsten and Tiësto, although the latter left in 2000 and the later productions were the work of Corsten alone. Recently he reworked his System F release – The Sonnet into a new Gouryella tune – Anahera, which made it to the top of many people’s best tunes of 2015 list. But tonight was to be the worldwide debut of Ferry Corsten playing live as Gouryella. With expectations at a very high level, there was, I suppose, a corresponding chance of disappointment, but that was not to be as I was simply blown away by how good this set was. Yes he played Gouryella –  Gouryella, Gouryella – Ligaya (Vocal Version), Gouryella – Tenshi and Gouryella – Anahera, but it was the overall feel of the set that was so fantastic as he transported us back 15 years to how trance used to sound back at the turn of the century. I would have loved to hear more, and especially to hear Binary Finary – 1998 (Gouryella Remix) but the hour we had was so good and showed that Ferry Corsten can still do it if he wants to – and shows how far he had slipped in my estimation in the last five years as he drifted away from trance. Let’s hope that Gouryella is back to stay and that we get the opportunity to experience an extended set in a nightclub somewhere in the world.

Such a tough act to follow, but if anyone is up to the task, it’s Fadi from Aly & Fila. It’s no secret that Fadi is my favourite DJ and one that I never miss the opportunity to see. He opened with Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle vs. Above & Beyond feat. Zöe Johnston – Nubia Good For Me (Ferry Tayle Mashup) and took us on an all-too-brief uplifting journey of Aly & Fila tunes and collaborations. He played Aly & Fila and Luke Bond feat. Audrey Gallagher – A Million Voices, Aly & Fila – Tula, Aly & Fila meet Roger Shah feat. Adrina Thorpe – Perfect Love, Aly & Fila with Aruna – The Other Shore, Aly & Fila with Solarstone – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Remix) and closed with a brand new mashup of Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle –  Napoleon with the vocals from Aly & Fila feat. Jwaydan –  We Control The Sunlight.

Short, one-hour sets are not a good thing in my view and Aly & Fila’s set really needed to be longer, but despite his willingness to carry on and the crowd’s calls for “one more hour”, it was not to be and the night ended on a truncated high. Overall I enjoyed the night, but if it hadn’t been for the exhilarating set by Ferry Corsten presents Gouryella, I think the disgustingness of the crowd would have spoiled my enjoyment too much. It will take a similarly stellar line up to persuade me to attend next year’s Atlantis and even then, perhaps a trip to Melbourne would be the better option?