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More wonderful trance to enjoy.

50. Above & Beyond with Andy Moor – Air For Life (2006)

49. Plastic Boy – Twixt (1999)

48. Orkidea – Unity (Solarstone Pure Mix) (2011) (Original from 1999)

47. Sasha – Xpander (2002)

46. Tilt – The World Doesn’t Know (2004)

45. Tiësto – Flight 643 (2001)

44. Aly & Fila – Lost Language (2008)

43. Jurgen Vries – The Theme (2002)

42. Ferry Corsten feat. Betsie Larkin – Made Of Love (2008)

41. Armin van Buuren feat. Sharon den Adel – In And Out Of Love (2008)

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In the words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” Or, to paraphrase Solarstone, “It’s not the kind of thing I usually go to, but I liked it anyway!”

Dance music in a concert hall, with everyone seated, listening to a string quartet, piano and various brass instruments? Well yes, this was exactly what Above & Beyond Acoustic promised. This was the last concert in their round-the-world tour, and there have been two Acoustic albums, so in one sense we all knew what to expect. But in another sense it felt like a real step into the unknown, as I really had no idea how the music would come across in that environment and how it would make everyone feel.

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Of course, Above & Beyond are responsible for some of the very best trance ever recorded – and Zoë Johnston and Justine Suissa have the most divine voices, so there was reason to think it would be great. On the other hand, Above & Beyond are also responsible for a lot of the cheesiest trance ever recorded, a lot of their newer tunes leave me cold and the last DJ set of theirs I attended was just horrible – trousey EDM and not a hint of trance, even when their classics were dropped, in horrible travesty remixes. So there was also reason to fear that the night would fall flat.

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But the moment the show started, all my fears vanished and we got to experience a wonderful two hours of tunes old and new, fantastically arranged for the orchestral instruments, supplemented by bass guitar and two drummers. Yes, there was a bit of cheese – principally in the second encore, Sun & Moon – and one or two flat moments. But overall it was simply magnificent and I’m sure no-one there, myself included, wanted it to end.

13413601_10157046271065078_8294268395486030770_nThe stars of the show as far as I was concerned were Justine Suissa and Zoë Johnston. SatelliteMiracle and On A Good Day vied with No One On EarthWe’re All We Need and the closing encore, Good For Me, as the highlights. But Cobi sang Alone Tonight brilliantly and Natalie Holmes was fantastic singing Counting Down The Days / Liquid Love. And without a doubt, the best moment of the night came when the audience spontaneously held up their smartphone lights to give a sparkling backdrop to Justine Suisse’s voice as she sang On A Good Day.

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Although it’s unlikely that there will be another chance to catch Above & Beyond Acoustic, it’s clear that Jono, Tony and Paavo enjoyed it so much, you can’t rule it out. And if there is another tour, I’ll be there in a flash!

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Unfortunately YouTube has taken down my video of Good For Me, so you can’t view it here any longer. But I think it’s still on my Facebook page and I will see if it’s possible to host it here.

Thanks to the various friends whose photos I’ve grabbed for this review.

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Another ten gems!

60. André Visior & Kay Stone – Something For Your Mind (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) (2008)

59. Estiva vs. Marninx – Casa Grande (2008)

58. Andy Moor vs. Orkidea – Year Zero (Andy Moor’s First Light Remix) (2006)

57. Insigma – Open Our Eyes (Insigma Mix) (1999)

56. Solarstone – Seven Cities (Solar Stone Atlantis Remix) (1999)

55. William Orbit – Barber’s Adagio For Strings (Ferry Corsten Remix) (1999)

54. Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun (DJ Tiësto’s In Search of Sunrise Mix) (2002)

53. Aria – Dido (Armin van Buuren’s Universal Religion Remix) (2000)

52. Jon O’Bir feat. Fisher – Found A Way (Joint Operations Centre Remix) (2010)

51. Armin van Buuren – Shivers (2005)

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Last year’s May Goes Mental night at Home nightclub had been such fun that this year’s instalment had been on the must-do list ever since it was confirmed. And what a way to finish off the mental month of May, that had included the double dose of Solarstone open-to-close and the Outburst night, where I had enjoyed Alex Di Stefano’s set so much!

Mental Asylum is the brainchild and label of Poland’s Indecent Noise, known for his uncompromising, no-holds-barred style of trance. This year he brought Lostly and Eddie Bitar with him to complete the bill and we arrived just as Lostly began his set. Hailing from South Africa, but now based in Germany, he’s not a producer I know well, or a DJ I’ve seen/heard before. So it was interesting to discover his sound and it was one that definitely appealed to me.


There was a lot about the set that wasn’t familiar to me, and I was distracted at one stage, chatting to Aleks (Indecent Noise) about our top 100 tunes. But I did recognise Kyau & Albert – Kiksu, Dogzilla – Without You and Underworld – Born Slippy.NUXX. As ever, the sound and visuals were spectacular and this really got me in the mood for the night’s main event.


I’ve seen Indecent Noise several times over the last few years and always enjoyed his music. This time was definitely my favourite set of his I’ve heard live – and not just because he dropped a few of the tunes we’d been talking about earlier!  He played Ernesto vs. Bastian – Dark Side Of The Moon, Sunscreem  – Please Save Me (James Dymond Remix), Kaycee – Escape, Cosmic Gate – Fire Wire (Indecent Noise Remix), Simon Patterson & Magnus – Evoke, Tiësto – Traffic, Energy 52 – Café del Mar, Salt Tank – Eugina mashed with Age Of Love – The Age Of Love, Armin van Buuren – Communication, Solarstone – Seven Cities, Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Sunlounger feat. Zara – Lost and Ayla – Ayla (DJ Taucher Remix).


We didn’t catch much of Eddie Bitar before we decided to call it a night. After such a wonderful month for trance in Sydney, not forgetting our FIFO* trip to Melbourne for the eight-hour Solarstone set, we were sated and exhausted. We will definitely take our foot off the accelerator for a few weeks at least, before the fun of Luminosity Beach Festival at the end of this month. But yet again, Voodoo and Mental Asylum had combined to deliver a really good night and I’m already looking forward to next year’s opportunity to don our straightjackets!

 

*For my non Aussie readers, FIFO stands for Fly In Fly Out.

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More trance for your delectation!

70. System F feat. Armin van Buuren – Exhale (2001)

69. Y-Traxx – Mysteryland (1995)

68. Salt Tank – Eugina (Michael Woods Remix) (2000)

67. Rui da Silva feat. Cassandra – Touch Me (2000)

66. Ascension – Someone (The Thrillseekers Remix) (2000)

65. Tilt – Children (Tilt’s Courtyard Mix) (1999)

64. Hydra – Affinity (The Thrillseekers Remix) (2005)

63. Mekka – Diamondback (2001)

62. Energy 52 – Café del Mar (Three N One Remix) (1997)

61. Saltwater – The Legacy (Alphazone Remix) (2003)

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After last weekend’s marathon Solarstone adventure, we needed a quieter weekend. Nevertheless, with Mark Sherry bringing Alex Di Stefano to Voodoo for his Outburst label tour, we couldn’t miss Friday night at Home. We’d enjoyed Alex Di Stefano’s sets in 2015, on a boat in Ibiza’s San Antonio bay and at Voodoo in October, so much that we weren’t going to turn down the opportunity to see him again. Mark Sherry has also played some really good sets recently.


With both DJs scheduled to play extended sets, it was another early start for us and we arrived just after 10pm, in time to see Alex Di Stefano. With a style that blends techno and trance, Di Stefano has been a growing name on the scene in recent times. Whilst this probably isn’t my naturally preferred variety of trance, I have found his sets to be most enjoyable. He builds beautifully and naturally, with flawless mixing and perfect tune selection and one again, his music on the night was simply fantastic.


Amongst the tunes he dropped were: Chris Schweizer – Scorpion, Gaia – Inyathi, Sean Tyas – Unleash (Alex Di Stefano Remix), Alex Di Stefano – I’ve Got The Power (Signum Signal Remix), Will Atkinson – Subconscious, Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Marcel Woods – Cherry Blossom and Bryan Kearney & Will Atkinson – The Game Changer. I enjoyed his set so much that I was thinking how good it would be if he could come back and play open to close. I really think he would give a masterclass.


Next up was Mark Sherry, the label boss of Outburst. Mark is probably best known for the higher tempo style of tech-trance and his set began in this vein with some really good tunes. Aly & Fila with Giuseppe Ottaviani – Brilliant People (Mark Sherry Remix), Mark Sherry – The Pillars Of Creation, Sunscreem – Please Save Me (James Dymond Remix), Tiësto – Lethal Industry, John O’Callaghan feat. Clare Stagg – Lies Cost Nothing and Mark Sherry meets Space Frog & Derb – Follow Me (Psyburst Mix).


But perhaps the crowd wasn’t responding as hoped, because I felt the music took a turn for the more commercial as Sherry dropped a Coldplay remix, shortly followed by Above & Beyond – Sun & Moon. Around this time, we decided that after last week’s exertions, we’d prefer to get home early rather than stay for the rest of the set and, unusually for us, we ducked out early.

 

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Here’s the next set of ten amazing tunes!

80. Tilt vs. Paul van DykRendezvous (Quadraphonic Mix) (1997)

79. Space Manoeuvres – Stage One (Separation Remix) (1999)

78. System F – Out Of The Blue (1999)

77. Lost Tribe – Gamemaster (1999)

76. Rank 1 – Airwave (2002)

75. Reflekt feat. Delline Bass – Need To Feel Loved (The Thrillseekers Remix) (2004)

74. Man With No Name – Teleport (1996)

73. Libra pres. Taylor – Anomaly: Calling Your Name (Ferry Corsten Remix) (1999)

72. Cygnus X – Superstring (Rank 1 Remix) (2000)

71. Ferry Corsten – Galaxia (Aly & Fila Remix) (2006)

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What a wonderful weekend we’ve just had! When news first appeared that Solarstone would be heading to Australia in May to play two open to close sets – one in Sydney, the other in Melbourne – we resolved to go to both. I’ve been a big fan of Solarstone’s for as long as I can remember and each time I hear him play, I seem to like his music more and more. I still have sad memories of the night in Sydney nearly five years ago when his three-hour set was cruelly cut short after just one sensational hour, when the police had to close the club due to a stabbing. I’ve seen him play in London, Sydney, Miami, the Netherlands and Ibiza and he’s never disappointed me.

IMG_3115First up was Voodoo on Friday at Sydney’s Home nightclub, a regular outing for us, but this time we got there just after the doors opened, rather than around midnight. We would have been there earlier still, if Sydney’s dreadful public transport hadn’t chosen this night to throw a spanner into our carefully timed plans. But it was still early and the dancefloor was unsurprisingly sparsely populated. I noticed that the room seems bigger when it’s packed and you have to take time squeezing past people on your way to your favourite spot.


As expected, the music started progressively and built slowly towards the unmistakeable “pure trance” sound that Solarstone is best known for. This approach, of being your own warm-up DJ, is essential to successful open-to-close sets, but not many DJs are as well suited to it as Solarstone. The music was always melodic and danceable, but restrained at first, so that we didn’t expend all our dancing energies too quickly. But as midnight approached, the tempo accelerated and the energy palpably rose.


The production values at Home for Voodoo nights have long been of the highest standard – sound, visuals, lights and lasers. This night was no exception, although I did hear some complaints that the volume was too loud. As a veteran wearer of custom-fitted ear plugs, I have to say that I didn’t notice particularly. And the quality of the music certainly deserved the highest standard of production.


The music was a wonderful journey, taking in many of Solarstone’s own productions and remixes as well as tunes matching the true spirit of pure trance and a sprinkling of classics. With six hours’ worth of notes on my phone, there’s just too many to list here, but a selection of the music we heard follows here: Solarstone feat. Clare Stagg – Requiem, Synergy – Hello Strings, BT feat. Jes – Every Other Way (Josh Gabriel Remix), Gai Barone – Mr Slade (Solarstone Pure Mix), David Bowie – Space Oddity (Solarstone Tribute Mix), The Thrillseekers – Just Because, Ferry Tayle – Lozza, Aly & Fila with Solarstone – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix), Paul van Dyk – Nothing But You, Aly & Fila & Aruna – The Other Shore (Solarstone Pure Mix), Ludovico Einaudi – Two Trees (John O’Callaghan Remix), Ciaran McAuley – Maria, Solarstone – Nothing But Chemistry Here, Solarstone & Basil O’Glue – Infatuation. He finished the set with Solarstone – Seven Cities and we hurried home to get some sleep before the next day’s flight down to Melbourne.


We’ve had so many great nights at Voodoo and, for me, this was right up there with the absolute best – perhaps not surprisingly, given how much I love Solarstone and his pure trance sound. The big question now was how would Melbourne match up?

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Of course, Melbourne has the advantage of a more sensible approach to night-life curfews and, as a result, the night was scheduled to last a full 8 hours, until 6am (the flyer above was created before the extra two hours were added). Getting off the plane we headed straight to a restaurant in Hawthorn to refuel before joining the line to get in as soon as possible.

The venue, Room 680, is a complete contrast to Home. Whereas Home is a multi-level space with a modern feel, dedicated to a multi-sense experience, Room 680 is best described as old school. A relatively low ceiling, a huge mass of mirror balls, seats around the edges, a podium in the centre and even a cage, combined with a beer-soaked carpet at the back where the bar is. Smoke was constantly pumped out of a machine at the front left and the production was more modest in scale than you get at Home, though still impressive. The sound was not as crystal clear, either, but there were sweet spots that we gravitated towards, as well as areas where the reverberation of the bass drowned out a lot of the midrange. The overall feel was very much more intimate and underground.

IMG_3121Early on in the set we got a chance to chat very briefly to Rich, otherwise known as Solarstone, who told us that he was going to play a very different set to the previous night. And he wasn’t wrong. Although there was a core of tracks that he played both nights, they were played at different times of the night and, consequently, it felt completely different to the night before.

Every so often you have a night out that you know you will remember for a very long time. When you just know that in years to come you will still remember how good it was and reminisce with the friends you shared it with. When you know that some friends who couldn’t make it will be devastated to hear about what they missed. Well, this was one of those nights in my book. There’s no point in trying to remember when I’ve heard a better set – if I have done, it was a very very long time ago. Despite the occasional reverb-ing bass and the fact that as the night wore on, the toll on my legs from all the dancing was beginning to tell, I just couldn’t stop dancing.


So many great tunes, tumbling over each other: Solarstone & Gai Barone – Fata Morgana, Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Solarstone Edit), Silvermine – Flying (Solarstone Pure Mix), Solarstone & Clare Stagg – The Spell, Solarstone & Clare Stagg –  Jewel, Solarstone – Spectrum, Solarstone – Like A Waterfall, Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix), Factor B –  Sacrosanct, Orkidea – Unity (Solarstone Pure Mix), Sied van Riel & Standerwick – In A Perfect World (Solarstone Pure Mix), Young Parisians – U Write The Rules, Holden & Thompson – Nothing (93 Returning Remix), Peter Steele – Mantra, Solarstone feat. Elizabeth Fields – Speak In Sympathy (Jussi Polet Remix), Solarstone – 4ever, Driftmoon – Howl At The Moon (Solarstone Retouch), London Grammar –  Wasting My Young Years (Solarstone Pure Mix), Will Atkinson –  Subconscious, Betsie Larkin with Solarstone – Breathe You In (Solarstone Pure Mix) and even Dogzilla –  Without You.


As the night wore on towards the 6am close, the crowd was thinning out a little and it was a lot less crowded at the back, but those who remained more than made up for it with their energy and enthusiasm, and Solarstone himself seemed to be really enjoying himself, jumping around and punching the air as the big tunes dropped. Of course, all great nights have to end eventually, and just after 6am, Rich signalled that he was just too tired to continue and gave us one last tune: Giuseppe Ottaviani – Crossing Lights.


We had to hurry out at this point and jump into an Uber to get us to the airport on time. There was no time to say thanks to Rich for two such amazing nights. Sydney had been really good, but Melbourne, for me, was on another level. When trance music is this good, there’s no better feeling than dancing and jumping around. By the end, my feet were sore and every muscle in my legs were telling me to sit down, but I kept on going. What an incredible night!

Through the wonders of the internet, you can relive the Melbourne set on Soundcloud and here are the links:

Part 1

Part 2

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Carrying on my countdown of my favourite trance tunes, here’s the second batch of ten.

90. Delerium feat. Leigh Nash – Innocente (Falling In Love) (DJ Tiësto Remix) (2001)

89. Age Of Love – The Age Of Love (Paul van Dyk Love Of Ages Remix) (1997)

88. Ecano – Run (Z2 Remix) (1999)

87. Bryan Kearney & Snatam Kaur – Ong Namo (Neptune Project’s In Search Of The Mayans Remix) (2011)

86. Humate – Love Stimulation (Paul van Dyk’s Love Club Mix) (1998)

85. Tilt – I Dream (Tilt’s Resurrection Remix) (1999)

84. PPKResuRection (Space Club Mix) (2001)

83. Paul van Dyk feat. Austin Leeds, Starkillers & Ashley Tomberlin – New York City (2007)

82. Gouryella – Gouryella (1999)

81. Lost WitnessHappiness Happening (Lange Remix) (1999)

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Inspired by my good friend Ayesha’s countdown of her favourite tunes, I have spent considerable time and effort in thinking about which tunes comprise my top 100 trance tracks. I can tell you with some confidence that this is not an easy task. Even harder is trying to sort them into some kind of order. One thing is for sure – if I attempted to do this again, the list would not be the same and it would be in a different order. So it’s something of a snapshot, although by deliberately excluding more recent tunes, hopefully I have achieved some kind of stability.

In some ways, I suspect that you would learn more about someone’s taste by seeing what they had in their second 100, as so many classic tunes must surely feature in most people’s first 100 – but there would be greater variation once the standards have been exhausted. Anyway, I have decided to break my list into chunks and reveal them ten at a time, in time-honoured fashion, in reverse order. So here goes!

100. Alt+F4Alt+F4 (2004) 

99. John 00 Fleming – Tour de Trance (2003)

98. José Amnesia – The Eternal (1999)

97. SolarstoneDay By Day (Solarstone Dub) (1998)

96. Driftmoon – Howl At The Moon (Solarstone Retouch) (2013)

95. Astral Projection – Mahadeva (1995)

94. Tilt – Twelve (2004)

93. Ayla – Ayla (1996)

92. Madonna – What It Feels Like For A Girl (Above & Beyond 12″ Club Mix) (2001)

91. Atlantis vs. Avatar feat. Miriam Stockley – Fiji (Lange Remix) (2000)