Archives for posts with tag: Alex Ryan

img_3249Back from an extended break in London, The Netherlands, Italy and Ibiza, it’s now time to get back into writing my reviews. But first things first, I need to catch up on what I did while I was away. Finding time to write up every event proved too much this year, and once I’d let it slip, I decided that the best thing would be to write up a single review covering every event of the summer in Europe.

img_3256First up, of course, was Luminosity Beach Festival, of which so much could be written. As always, it was the perfect blend of wonderful music, amazing sunsets, meeting old friends, making new friends and dancing to trance across three stages. So many highlights, as always, but there were a few that I have to mention.

  • The Thrillseekers, who opened with Sasha – Xpander (a bold move), and just got better and better, over three wonderful hours.
  • Orkidea, of course, who opened the new stage on the Saturday, warming us up perfectly for the day’s musical treats ahead.
  • Signum, who played another brilliant set and surprised me when he dropped the wonderful London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years (Solarstone Remix).
  • Liquid Soul, whose deliciously melodic psy-trance was perfect for the time of day.
  • John O’Callaghan, playing possibly my favourite tune of the year so far: Ludovico Einaudi – Two Trees (John O’Callaghan Remix).
  • John 00 Fleming, ripping apart the new stage as only he can do.
  • Paul van Dyk on classics day as the sun set. How good it was to see him back in action!


The festival gets bigger and bigger each year, and perhaps as it does so it loses a little of its charm and intimacy. But it’s still streets ahead of anything else in the world for trance fans and next year’s tenth anniversary, with an extra day’s music to enjoy, has been put firmly into our diary (tickets and accommodation already secured).

Back in London we had the chance to catch the latest dance:love:hub night, at Brixton’s Club 414. Sadly, The Digital Blonde had to cancel, but we still had a great time dancing to some warm, melodic psy-trance, courtesy of Jon Cockle, Façade and others. These events are notable for the friendly vibe and the brilliant decorations of the intimate 414 really made for a special night.


Our annual pilgrimage to Ibiza took us to Amnesia for Cream and what a great night it was too! Without a doubt, Amnesia is my favourite club in the world, despite the ridiculous bar prices. Jordan Suckley played a really good warm-up set, which I probably enjoyed more than I would a peak hour set in his normal style. Paul Oakenfold relied a bit too much on EDM drops over old Perfecto classics in the first half of his set, but got it spot on in the last 45minutes – so much so that I forgave him for what had gone before!


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, in his element as the Cream resident, played even better than his Luminosity set and showed that his remarkable recovery from the life-threatening fall at ASOT750 is all but complete. And then Aly & Fila tore the roof down with a brilliant set that showed Fadi at his absolute best. What a moment when he dropped The Thrillseekers – Amber (ID Remix) and we got to hear the other contender for tune of the year on the sensational Amnesia sound system!


At the other end of our Ibiza trip we were hugely disappointed when the news came through that Solarstone had broken his ankle in Majorca and was unable to play either the Connect Boat Party or the Connect Pure Trance night at Es Paradis. Still, the show must go on, and Sied van Riel was flown in to cover. He played back-to-back with Alex Ryan on the sunset boat party, which is definitely one of the best things about Ibiza.

Version 2The Pure Trance night went ahead without Solarstone, and there was a disappointing turnout for what proved to be a night of superb trance. Orkidea opened with a wonderful 90-minute set, Sied van Riel played a wonderfully trancey set and John 00 Fleming played one of the best two hours I’ve ever heard from him, closing with Tiësto – Suburban Train and Brainbug – Nightmare. With plenty of room to dance, we had a brilliant night.


In between the big events that bookended our week on the white isle, we managed several trips to the wonderful Tropi bar, making friends and dancing to tunes played by DJ Ange, Nathia Kate, Amy Parnell, Paul Stone and others. There really is no other bar like it, anywhere in the world and we even left Eric Prydz at Café Mambo early just to get back to Tropi!


Back in the UK and there was time for an overnight trip up to Manchester for the last ever Majefa night, at Sound Control. The main room of the club was absolutely rammed and, with little ventilation, it was a real sweatbox. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed John 00 Fleming’s set – very different from the tunes he played three days earlier in Ibiza and I’d really love to know whose remix of Binary Finary – 1998 he dropped.


After J00F it was time for M.I.K.E. Push Live – and despite the heat and the short amount of time he had to play (55 minutes), what an incredible set he delivered, including Plastic Boy – Silver Bath, Push – The Legacy, Push – Strange World and finishing with an amazing live rendition of Push – Universal Nation.


We also caught a bit of Matt Darey’s set in the downstairs room and really enjoyed listening to Ryan Hamer in the bar, especially when he dropped Sean Tyas – Lift. The after-party was a bit of a let down, because instead of the billed 4-hour set by Akira Kayosa, he shared the DJ’ing with at least three others and it was such a mess that between them they managed to mix from one tune back into the tune they’d just played.

Our final event of the year before we flew back to Australia was Wax Format at the Magic Roundabout at Old Street roundabout in London. A mostly outdoor venue meant that the sound lacked a lot of punch, but it’s actually a great setting and has a bit of the feel of Sydney’s Greenwood, without the religious buildings! It was a good chance to see lots of our London trance family and friends for the last time this year and the only slight disappointment was that Richard Durand’s set, whilst full of classics, such as Veracocha – Carte Blanche, Armin van Buuren – Communication and Binary Finary – 1998 (Paul van Dyk Remix), didn’t really live up to its In Search Of Sunrise billing. After Richard Durand finished, Sam Mitcham played a really good set to call a close to our musical tour.

So that wraps up the last three months. Hopefully I’ll be getting things back to normal now, with a dedicated review of each event I attend.

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Is trance dying in Ibiza? I hope not. We all know how trance is thriving in Australia, but I wonder whether it still has the power to pull the Ibizan crowds? We had a lovely time spending ten days on the island, relaxing as well as dancing and we were lucky to hear some great DJs, but the events that were so good could have been better attended. Perhaps it was because we were going right at the start of the season? Perhaps additionally, the new events (Connect) or the re-scheduled ones (Driftwood and Sunk) need more time to establish their reputation and timing? Whatever the reason, both Driftwood and Connect are great events and deserve to succeed.

We arrived in Ibiza fresh from Luminosity. Or rather, exhausted from Luminosity! So it was nice to spend the first few days chilling and enjoying the sunshine. Our first big night out came on Thursday, with Cream at Amnesia, featuring Above & Beyond. Amnesia is my favourite club in the world and I’ve always had amazing nights at Cream. So it is all the more difficult to say how much I hated it this time around. The club was pretty much the same as always and it was very busy, if not absolutely rammed. The problem was the music. Jono Grant was representing Above & Beyond and the tunes he played were really not to my taste. Once upon a time, Above & Beyond could do no wrong in my eyes (or should I say ears?). But I’ve long realised that they are not playing the same style. Having said that, I managed to enjoy myself reasonably enough when I saw them at Amnesia a couple of years ago. Sadly, this was by a long distance the worst set I’ve heard from them. The trouse was bad enough, without butchered remixes of Oceanlab – Satellite and Above & Beyond – Alone Tonight that simply made me weep.

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A couple more days relaxing, visiting Formentera and, of course, Tropi Bar in San Antonio, were the perfect antidote and set us up nicely for the next few days of sunset boat parties and after-parties. First up was Driftwood. Driftwood promoter, Sam Mitcham got things going well and then handed over to Alex di Stefano, who played a wonderful blend of techno and trance that really set the afternoon up. Next was Fred Baker. I have to admit that I hadn’t really heard of Fred, but it seems that’s partly because he uses so many aliases as a producer and partly because he’s only just back DJ-ing after a lengthy break due to illness. Happily he seems to be over the illness now and that can only be good news because he is a great DJ and we absolutely loved his set. Indecent Noise played in his inimitable style and was the perfect DJ for a sunset boat party, with tunes such as Indecent Noise feat. Noire Lee – Glitches and Madonna – What It Feels Like For A Girl (Above & Beyond Remix). The afterparty at Club Summum sadly failed to bring in many clubbers, which was a real shame as Alex di Stefano, Fred Baker and Indecent Noise played some great tunes in their back-to-back-to-back set.

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The very next day we were back on the same boat, now with Connect branding, for another Ibizan sunset cruise. Opening up was Will Atkinson presents Darkboy, playing some dark progressive psy tunes to get things under way. Connect promoter Alex Ryan was next and things got trancier. As the sun got lower in the sky, it was time for the headliner, Jordan Suckley to play but the surprise of the day was when he decided he needed some help behind the decks and got Mark Sherry to take over for the climax of the sunset, which he handled perfectly by dropping Above & Beyond – Sun In Your Eyes (Mark Sherry’s ‘Argentinian Sun’ Remix). And to finish things off, there was a short back-to-back-to-back set with Will Atkinson and Jordan Suckley joining Mark Sherry as the boat returned to shore.

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Our last night out was a trip to Privilege’s Vista club for the onshore version of Connect. The line-up was similar to the previous day’s boat party but with the addition of Mark Sherry (who had played unofficially on the boat), Photographer and Bryan Kearney. We were convinced that after the Luminosity no-show, Photographer would again have visa issues and fail to make it to Ibiza. Sure enough, there was no sign of him all night, but that didn’t matter because I loved Mark Sherry‘s warm up set – not at all like his usual style, but showing great versatility and setting things up perfectly for Bryan Kearney. Every time I see him, I become more of a fan of Kearney’s. This set was not the equal of his tour-de-force at Luminosity; nevertheless it was a great set, filled with surprises, including finishing with Craig Connelly & Christina Novelli – Black Hole, no doubt as a tribute to Christina Novelli, who had been involved in a serious road accident earlier that day.

There’s plenty of good trance music available on Ibiza, but sometimes you won’t find it in the traditional places – like Cream Amnesia – and there’s a nagging worry that the audience for real trance isn’t really there in sufficient numbers, at least early in the season. I’d certainly be interested to see how the rest of the season progresses and wish all the real trance promoters on the island well as their efforts really deserve to succeed. And of course, there’s always the Tropi Bar in San Antonio’s West End, where great music is guaranteed – just watch out for the Gas Chamber cocktails!

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Our annual trip to Ibiza is always filled with musical treats and this year was no different. Except that there were quite a few differences this year in Ibiza, with Armin van Buuren taking his A State Of Trance shows from Monday nights at Privilege to Thursday evenings at Ushuaïa, while Markus Schulz took up residence at Amnesia on Sundays. Ferry Corsten has moved his Full On Ferry night from Eden to Space. And the Driftwood team have launched a new trance night, Sunk, at Privilege’s side room, the Vista Club. Finally, Gatecrasher have taken over and renamed Eden, with trance scheduled every Monday night. The only fixed star in the firmament is Thursday night’s Cream at Amnesia.

So when we booked our six-night stay, we knew that there was probably more to see and hear than even our eager appetites could manage. Thus we turned down the opportunity to see the New World Punx on the night we arrived, knowing that the following day’s Driftwood party would be worth preserving our energies for.

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Driftwood 
is my favourite thing to do in my favourite holiday destination. What more can you want than 100 or so trance aficionados on a boat in San Antonio bay, listening to proper trance on a Funktion 1 sound system, as the sun sets? This was our third time aboard Driftwood and the routine is now very familiar. Gathering at Itaca bar, exchanging tickets for wristbands (which also got us into Sunk the following night for free), a couple of warm-up drinks and then walking along the harbour front to the boat and climbing aboard, ready for the music to start. And taking a while to get used to dancing on a rocking boat!

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And what great music we were treated to! After a nice warm-up by Alex RyanMina (from Fady & Mina) played a great set, including his remix of Aly & Fila – Your Heart Is Mine. But we’d all come to hear Aly & Fila play, and Fadi did not disappoint, playing so many great tunes: Alt+F4 – Alt+F4, Oakenfold – Southern Sun (DJ Tiesto Remix), Luke Bond feat. Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila remix), Chicane – Autumn Tactics (The Thrillseekers remix), Above & Beyond – Sun In Your Eyes, and, of course, as the sun set, Aly & Fila feat. Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight. And after an overcast afternoon we got a brilliant sunset, as if to confirm that Fadi really does control the sunlight!

After Driftwood, we headed into San Antonio’s West End, to relax over drinks at the Tropi Bar, served by the one and only Oscar, and chatted to the new friends we’d made at the Driftwood party. We skipped Gatecrasher, having heard that the rostered DJs were unlikely to appear and the club very likely to be nearly empty. Not long after our visit to Ibiza, we learned that Gatecrasher had crashed and closed the doors. A shame that a great trance brand has been brought so low.

Tuesday night was one I was really looking forward to, ever since I realised that we were going to miss Pure Trance in Sydney. To make up for that, we were lucky enough to time our trip to the white isle to coincide with Pure Trance Ibiza, courtesy of Sunk, at Privilege’s Vista Club. With Orkidea, Solarstone and Giuseppe Ottaviani on the line-up, we didn’t want to miss a minute, so we were banging down the door to get in just after midnight.

Orkidea‘s set at Luminosity had been so wonderful, but this time he wasn’t going to be playing classics, so it was our first experience of a normal opening set by him. And what a wonderful set it was, awesome progressive tunes, like his remix of Tilt and Paul van Dyk – Rendezvous, edging up the energy level steadily till he closed with his remix of Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun.

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Next up was Solarstone, who started by dropping his Pure remix of Orkidea – Unity, a nice touch and a great transition from one set to the next. I loved the set, heavily laced with his own tunes like Solarstone & Clare Stagg – Jewel, Solarstone – Pure, Solarstone – Please, Solarstone – 4 Ever and possibly my favourite track from Pure Trance Volume 2, Driftmoon – Howl At The Moon (Solarstone Retouch).

The Vista club at Privilege is a much-improved space since our last visit, two years ago, when it was little more than an unadorned side-room, with the CD decks and mixers set up on a temporary table. The sound is great, as are the lasers and lights generally.

Following Solarstone, it was time for Giuseppe Ottaviani. Although Giuseppe was in fine form, playing a banging late night set, for some reason the crowd began to thin out, and as a result the room was fairly empty by the time he closed with Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) and Giuseppe Ottaviani feat. Vitamin B – Waiting on Someday.

After a quiet night on Wednesday, we were ready to return to the fray on Thursday for Cream at Amnesia. There’s always a fantastic atmosphere at Amnesia and a packed main room dance floor enjoying the music as well as the lasers and famous ice cannon. We arrived early to take up a good position – on the recommendation of some new friends we abandoned our usual spot on the step in front of the DJ booth for the podium at the back of the room. Although this gave us a great view, I don’t think the sound was as good in this spot, so later in the evening we found ourselves back in prime position on that step!

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After the warm-up DJ, it was Paul Oakenfold who got the main event rolling, but I really didn’t like his set at all. His mixing has never been his strong point, but in the first half an hour or so it was the big room EDM tunes that he was playing that grated more than the mixing itself. Later in his set the tunes improved – KhoMha – The Dark Knight, Darude –Sandstorm, PPK – Resurrection, Paul Oakenfold – Southern Sun, Paul Oakenfold – Café del Mar, John O’Callaghan – Big Sky – but the mixing didn’t and the overall effect was of a set being “phoned-in” and, although I hadn’t really expected that much, I was disappointed.

Paul van Dyk was next and he took the night to another level. He combined his technical expertise with some wonderful tunes, both new and classic to create an amazing energy and he had the main room buzzing throughout his set. Amongst the many classic tunes he dropped (maybe more than usual because we were celebrating 20 years of Cream at Amnesia) were Paul van Dyk – Time Of Our Lives, Giuseppe Ottaviani – No More Alone, Paul van Dyk – For An Angel, The Thrillseekers – Synaesthesia, Binary Finary – 1998, 4 Strings – Take Me Away, Randy Katana – In Silence, Underworld – Born Slippy and Paul van Dyk – Home.

5am arrived and it was time for John O’Callaghan to take us through till the close. At this time of night, there’s no messing around with JOC. It’s 140+BPM all the way. For me, this was the best set of the night. At 7 o’clock he was still going strong – along with at least 200 clubbers, determined not to leave until forced to. Along the way, we’d been treated to tunes like Vincent de Moor – Fly Away, Paul van Dyk & Giuseppe Ottaviani – Far Away, Ferry Tayle feat. Poppy – The Way Back Home, Flynn & Denton with Audrey Gallagher – Say My Name and Rui de Silva feat. Cassandra – Touch Me. We left blinking and searching for our sunglasses as we headed for the usual bunfight for taxis.

Friday night was our last night before flying home to London and we decided to take a late trip out to Space to catch Full On Ferry with Ferry Corsten and Aly & Fila. Last year, we had enjoyed Ferry’s set immensely as he transitioned from the EDM of Showtek through to uplifting trance to hand over to Fadi, by playing all his trance classics. This year, however, it was a very different experience. Perhaps because Space is a mainstream club, or for some other reason, but Ferry showed no interest in playing anything other than commercial mainstream EDM and, although the messy Space crowd were lapping it up, the room was by no means full and I found the music awful. The only hint he gave at what he is capable of was in the short section where he played back to back with Fadi, when he dropped Punk and Sweet Sorrow.

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With a crowd all set up to hear commercial tunes, Fadi did his best to rescue the night, but a lot of the people there were not interested in staying to listen to trance and the vibe in the room suffered as the place emptied. We heard some great music of course: Pink Floyd – Shine On The Dark Side Of The Moon (Neptune Project’s Out There With Pluto Mix) sounded fantastic played on the Space Discoteca sound system … and it was good to hear Fadi drop Rapid Eye – Circa Forever and Oceanlab – Satellite. But compared to other occasions when we’ve seen Aly & Fila, this didn’t rank among the best – primarily down to the venue and the crowd.

Another year in Ibiza and lots of great music and dancing. It can be expensive, of course, but we usually find ways of keeping the costs down so that we can afford to come back year after year. As always seems to be the case these days, Driftwood was the highlight. But Sunk shows a lot of promise, Cream is always special and we hardly noticed the fact that we missed out (by choice) on seeing either Armin or Markus Schulz.

Roll on 2015!

 

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Last year in Ibiza, we had our first experience of the Driftwood boat party, with the Subculture event, featuring Paul Webster, Sneijder and John O’Callaghan. It was just sensationally good, the highlight of the whole trip and thus an absolute must for every trip to the white isle from now on. A smallish boat (chartered by two promoter DJs, Sam Mitcham and Alex Ryan, who are massively into quality trance), some seriously good international DJs, a few dozen die-hard trance aficionados and the sunset over San Antonio bay makes the perfect recipe for an idyllic evening.

And how happy I was when I found out that my favourite DJ, Fadi of Aly & Fila, would be headlining the event when we were due to be in Ibiza this year? Together with Arctic Moon, who we had enjoyed so much when he played in Sydney in February with Indecent Noise and Matt Bowdidge, it felt like the stars were aligning to give us another awesome evening.

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And apart from the San Antonio sunset, which didn’t play its part, as the clouds drew in before the sun sank to the horizon, it was just as good as I anticipated. Lots of friends, including someone we met on the Subculture boat party last year and fantastic music combined to make it another awesome party and undoubtedly the musical highlight of Ibiza 2013 as far as I’m concerned. It was also great to have the chance to chat to Fadi and his manager, Stuart, about music and the forthcoming Stereosonic tour of Australia, where he will be playing a back-to-back set with John O’Callaghan.

I decided not to take notes of the tunes we heard – mainly I didn’t want to risk my iPhone falling into the Mediterranean! Arctic Moon warmed things up nicely and Fadi played yet another superb set, as I knew he would, closing with Above & Beyond – Home.

Driftwood is such a great party that I can’t recommend it highly enough. Although some may disagree, for my money, it’s the best thing in Ibiza, even compared to the massive productions at Amnesia and Privilege.