Archives for posts with tag: Aly & Fila

sydneysoldoutLast weekend threw up one of those dreadful clashes, where two of the world’s best trance DJs are pitted against each other at different venues in the same city. We originally had tickets to see John 00 Fleming play his annual extended set at the Chinese Laundry. However, as we’d seen J00F three times for a total of nearly six hours over the European summer, we opted instead to make our way to The Metro Theatre for a five hour set by Fadi, of Aly & Fila (who, by contrast, we’d only seen for 90 minutes, in Ibiza).

img_3720Two years ago, at the same venue, Fadi had played one of the best sets in recent years and made a bit of a name for himself by offering to pay any fines incurred if he could just be allowed to play an extra hour (“fuck the police!”), before the venue and promoter insisted he finish. As a result, the levels of anticipation and excitement for his return were unsurprisingly high. And with the fortune of finding friends near the head of the queue, we were inside in good time for the start of the night.

img_3722While the consensus of those I spoke to afterwards was that this night did not quite match up to the magic of the 2014 event, I thought it was a really good set, showing Fadi at his best as he built quickly through some progressive tunes so that he could spend the majority of his set at the 138-140bpm mark, where he excels. The set included a heavy sprinkling of classics, but not simply the obvious ones that seem to get dragged out so often.


Of course there were many Aly & Fila productions – The Other Shore (Solarstone Pure Mix),  Where To Now (feat. Sue McLaren), For All Time (with Jaren), Laily (feat. Karim Youssef – Photographer Remix) and Lost Language among them. Plus a lot of collaborations: Aly & Fila with Skypatrol feat. Sue McLaren – Running, Aly & Fila vs. The Thrillseekers – Es Vedra, Solarstone and Aly & Fila – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix), Aly & Fila with Luke Bond feat. Audrey Gallagher – Million Voices. Not to mention several Aly & Fila remixes, such as Ferry Corsten – Beautiful (Aly & Fila Remix), Luke Bond feat.Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila Remix) and Ferry Corsten press. Moonman – Galaxia (Aly & Fila Remix).


The highlights of the night for me personally were when he unexpectedly dropped two old Anjunabeats classics that I haven’t heard for years and years: Super8 & P.O.S. pres Aalto – 5 and P.O.S. – Remember (Summer Sun). Pure magic!


The sound was pretty good too, something that The Metro has sometimes struggled with and the lights and laser show was spot on, although as we spent most of the time right at the front, we probably didn’t get to experience the best of this.


Fadi himself was clearly having a great time and when he brought the set to a close with Aly & Fila feat. Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight and Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle vs. Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston – Nubia Is Good For Me, it was inevitable that he would ask to play for another hour. To the crowd’s delight, the promoter initially agreed – only to return a couple of minutes later with the venue’s (or most probably the police’s) insistence that the night was over.

img_3726This was one of the best nights of trance in Sydney this year and I had absolutely no regret at choosing it over the J00F option (if only I could have cloned myself and done both!). And the great news is that Fadi told us all at the end that he would be bring the Future Sound Of Egypt 500 celebrations to Sydney next year – let’s hope it’s not while I’m in Europe, or the same night as John 00 Fleming is playing elsewhere in Sydney!

 

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Gouryella
 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.

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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?

 

 

It’s always pretty tricky narrowing down your favourite tunes and when you look back at previous years, you realise that some you loved then don’t seem so good with hindsight, while you seem to have missed out some amazing tunes altogether.

So I’m not going to claim this is a definitive list, but an attempt at listing the tunes that had the biggest impact on me in the last twelve months. I’m deliberately excluding mash-ups (so no place for the wonderful Ferry Tayle mash-up of Good For Me and Nubia) and re-works of old classics (so no room on the list for Dan Stone’s rework of Matt Darey’s I See The Sun or Robert Nickson’s update of Spiral).

I’ve done my best to ensure that I’ve only included tracks released (as singles or on compilations) since 1 January 2015 – but it’s always possible that something on this list appeared in 2014, but escaped my attention until later. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading the list, which is in alphabetical order, and maybe listening to some or all of them!

Stuart Millar – Airplein (Peter Steele Remix)

Standerwick feat. Jennifer Rene – All Of Us 

Giuseppe Ottaviani – Crossing Lights 

Aly & Fila vs The Thrillseekers – Es Vedra 

Paul van Dyk & Mark Eteson feat. Tricia McTeague – Heart Like An Ocean (Aly & Fila Remix) 

Peter Steele – Mantra 

Ciaran McAuley – Maria

 
Aly & Fila vs Ferry Tayle – Napoleon 

Solarstone – Nothing But Chemistry Here 

Solarstone & Iko – Once (Solarstone Pure Mix) 

Sean Matthews – Paradise (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) 

Orkidea – p:Machinery 

Thomas Datt – Prana Flow 

Scientific Harmony – Purgatory (Angry Man Remix)  

UCast – Ramp 

Orkidea – Revolution Industrielle 

Factor B – Sacrosanct 

Factor B – Stratos Galaxias 

Amir Hussain – To The Lost 

The Noble Six – Undimmed  

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Having attended the celebrations for Future Sound Of Egypt 300 in Amsterdam and FSOE 350 in London, we were excited to learn that there would be an FSOE 400 party in Australia. Until, that is, we realised that it would take place while we were in London. So, as a consolation, we booked ourselves flights and a hotel to attend the FSOE 400 festival in Prague instead.

Unfortunately, the director of the local promotion agency took his life earlier this year and this was the reason given for the cancellation of the Czech instalment of the FSOE 400 worldwide series of festival nights. This meant that we were denied our chance to see Ferry Corsten (and discover how he would approach playing an unashamedly trance night such as this) or John O’Callaghan (a favourite of ours whom we haven’t seen enough of lately).

However, the local Czech trance family and Aly & Fila’s management quickly put together an alternative event, so that those who had spent money on tickets, flights and hotels did not lose out. Instead of a 12-hour festival, with its long list of DJs, we were treated to an intimate club night centred around a three-hour set by Aly & Fila.

The nightclub, Club Mecca, was already busy when we arrived just as Thomas Coastline was finishing his set with John O’Callaghan – Find Yourself. And it was already pretty warm on the dance floor, although nowhere near as hot as it would be later. After Thomas Coastline, it was the turn of Driftmoon, who dropped some great tunes, such as Gareth Emery feat. Lucy Saunders – Sanctuary and Driftmoon – Howl At The Moon. However, I didn’t really enjoy his set as much as I’d expected as it seemed to lack direction – Vini Vici – The Tribe dropped in the middle of some uplifting trance felt completely out of place.

The night’s magic began when Fadi (the Fila in Aly & Fila) got behind the decks. We had an unusual perspective as the VIP dance floor was behind the DJ booth, but as the main floor was so packed and so crazily hot, we stuck it out there, with occasional very welcome blasts of cool air when the bar staff opened a side door to restock or get rid of empty bottles.


Fadi’s set contained so many brilliant tunes: Aly & Fila vs. The Thrillseekers – Es Vedra, Paul van Dyk feat. Tricia McTeague – Heart Like An Ocean (Aly & Fila Remix), FKN feat. Jahala – Why? (Aly & Fila Remix) and Matt Darey feat. Kate Louise Smith – See The Sun (Dan Stone Remix) being highlights of the early part of the set. There was a huge energy in the crowd and Fadi was working his magic with so many Aly & Fila tunes and remixes, such as Lost Language, Shine (Club Mix), Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix) (with Solarstone), First Sun and the Solarstone Pure remix of The Other Shore. And the place went nuts when Fadi dropped Ferry Corsten – Galaxia. Another highlight was Vast Vision feat. Fisher – Everything (Aly & Fila Remix).

The climax of the set came with Ferry Tayle vs Aly & Fila vs Above & Beyond feat. Zöe Johnston – Good For Nubia (Ferry Tayle mashup). I loved the set – as I always do with Aly & Fila – and it was great to catch up with Fadi and his manager, Stuart, afterwards. In fact, I’m sure I enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed the festival which had been cancelled – a great line-up and superb production doesn’t, in my opinion, compensate for the loss of the intimacy offered by a small club night. And we even made some new friends among the Czech branch of the international trance family!


After his set, Fadi spent most of the next hour chatting and having photos taken with his fans from Prague and further afield – we saw flags from Germany, the UK and the USA. Arctic Moon took over in the DJ booth and played for the next hour – as we were chatting to Fadi for much of his set I didn’t really pay much attention but he certainly kept the crowd enthralled with his music, including his remix of Sia’s cover of the old Mamas & Papas tune, California Dreamin’. However my ears only really pricked up when he dropped the classic Marco V – Godd.

We were pretty tired now, as we’d spent the day sightseeing in Prague and we knew that we wouldn’t get any sleep before our flight back to London. But we were determined to stay for at least part of ReOrder’s set. We’ve seen him quite a bit recently, in Sydney and Holland, and he always delivers his music with passion and panache, so even with a late time-slot, he was able to keep up the energy on the still very busy dance floor. I loved the remix of Energy 52 – Café del Mar that he dropped and it was great to hear Aly & Fila vs Skypatrol feat. Sue McLaren – Running.

The night was still going strong, but it was time for us to leave, hard as it was to drag ourselves away from ReOrder. It had been a fantastic night in a great nightclub, with the only criticism being the almost unbearable heat. At least we’d been lucky enough to have VIP wristbands, which meant we were able to dance in a less packed part of the club and benefit from the cold air drafts when the side doors were opened. All in all a great consolation for missing out on FSOE and now a seventh different country (Australia, UK, Ibiza, USA, Holland, Singapore and now Czech Republic) in which we’ve seen Fadi play. I wonder which will be the eighth? Egypt perhaps?

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The weekend’s big event was the long anticipated celebration of 700 editions of Armin van Buuren’s A State Of Trance radio show. And it entailed a trek out west to Sydney Showgrounds at Homebush and the massive Exhibition Halls. I’d been to three previous annual ASOT parties: 500 in Sydney, 600 in Miami and 650 in Kuala Lumpur and enjoyed them all, yet it was only the inclusion of Aly & Fila and Bryan Kearney on the bill that persuaded me to go along this time. I guess I’ve tired of Armin’s style of trance, where he tries to be all things to all people, whatever their dance music tastes, but ends up playing commercial tunes that really only appeal to the new EDM fans. And when he does play tunes closer to his old trance style, he has become very predictable.

We arrived in time to catch part of David Gravell‘s set in the enormous main arena. The production and sound immediately impressed, but I wasn’t really enjoying his music – even his remix of the old classic, Veracocha – Carte Blanche, didn’t really thrill me. But soon it was midnight and time for the entrance of Gaia, the act formed by Armin van Buuren and Benno de Goeij (of Rank 1 fame). Whilst Armin’s tunes released under his own name in recent years have not been much to excite real trance fans, the catalogue of tunes under the Gaia banner have been much better. And as they rarely perform together, this was something I’d been looking forward to hearing.


And I really enjoyed the hour of music that they put together using their laptops and wearing hooded capes that hid their faces from view. Opening with Gaia – Tuvan, they played many Gaia tracks, such as Empire Of Hearts, Humming The Lights, J’ai Envie De Toi, In Principio and Status Excessu D. And they finished with one of Armin’s best tunes – Blue Fear, although it was the Orjan Nilsen remix, not the timeless original.

Next up was MarLo. I’m not a big fan of his, really, but we stayed a while and listened as he dropped tunes such as Ferry Corsten – Festival Crash and Paul Oakenfold & Cassandra Fox – Touch Me (Beat Service Remix). We left to try out the second room as he dropped Cara Dillon vs. 2 Devine – Black Is The Colour, although it was mashed up with a tune I didn’t recognise.


On the other stage, we found Jorn van Deynhoven playing. I’ve always enjoyed his sets, even though he will surely never again play something as wonderful as his five-and-a-half hour set at Nevermind a couple of years ago, when he quite simply blew us away with an amazing set. The second room was much less busy and, consequently, a lot cooler. But while the visuals weren’t as impressive as the main stage, the sound was good and there was plenty of room to dance. And Jorn van Deynhoven played some great tunes: Max Graham – The Evil ID, Jorn van Deynhoven – Headliner and Orkidea – Purity (Sneijder Remix) amongst them.

Back to the main stage for the second half of Armin van Buuren‘s set and the room was now almost impossibly hot. We found a bit of room to dance near the front but to the left hand side. And Armin actually surprised me – there was no sign of horrors such as This Is What It Feels Like and he was putting together some really good tunes: Arisen Flame & Driftmoon – Live Your Dream, Simon Patterson & Matt Adey – Time Stood Still and Lange – Imagineer (Alex M.O.R.P.H. Remix).


He was now firmly in 138BPM territory and dropping tunes like Armin van Buuren – Communication (Paul Oakenfold Full On Fluoro Mix) and Dash Berlin – Shelter (Photographer Remix). Several mash-ups followed: Gareth Emery & Bryan Kearney & Christina Novelli feat. Bo Bruce – U Concrete Angel (Armin van Buuren Mashup), Solarstone & Scott Bond vs Armin van Buuren feat. Sophie Ellis Bextor – 3rd Earth vs Giving Up On Love and Armin van Buuren & Andrew Rayel vs. Cosmic Gate – EIFORYA vs Exploration of Space (Armin van Buuren Mashup).

The only odd note was near the end when he played a remix of John Lennon – Imagine, which felt completely out of place. He drew the set to a close with Armin van Buuren vs Photographer – Airport Shivers (Armin van Buuren Mashup) with everyone singing along to the words of Shivers.

I hadn’t expected to enjoy Armin’s set so much, but now I was really ready for the night to take off, as it was time for Aly & Fila. We quickly made our way to the very front, as Fadi opened with Aly & Fila vs Ferry Tayle – Nubia (Ferry Tayle The Wizard Intro Mix). As you may have gathered from blog entries past, Fadi is my favourite DJ – indeed, it was only his name on the line-up that had tempted me along. But he had just 60 minutes here to work his magic. It was undoubtedly my favourite of the night’s sets, although I can’t say it matched the heights of previous occasions I’ve seen him, where he’s had much longer to build a journey. The highlight for me was when he dropped Solarstone vs. Aly & Fila – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix).


Fadi finished with Aly & Fila feat. Roxanne Emery – Shine (Club Mix) and Aly & Fila – We Control The Sunlight and it was time for Bryan Kearney to draw the night to a close. Immediately the volume was turned down several notches and although Kearney was knocking out some banging tunes, the arena was beginning to empty as I was wondering what was the reason for the sound reduction. And at about 5.25am, we found out, as the sound was turned off completely during Plumb – Need You Now (How Many Times) (Bryan Kearney Remix) and that was suddenly the end of the night.

It transpired later that the event had been shut down early on police orders, reacting to the death in the venue of a 19 year old man, reportedly overdosing on ecstasy pills, although as the post-mortem hasn’t yet been conducted, this can only be speculation at the moment. It’s not clear why closing the event down early was necessary, but after the deaths at ASOT650 in Kuala Lumpur last year, it does seem that ASOT parties are becoming jinxed (at least the ones I’ve attended recently). These large scale festival sized parties seem to attract people who have no idea how to take drugs safely, against a backdrop of authorities such as the police doing their best to make drug-taking dangerous – putting the crazy war on drugs ahead of public safety.

A final point to make is that the law against smoking indoors needs to be enforced as heavily as (if not more so than) the law against taking drugs. Then we wouldn’t get home stinking of cigarette smoke and bearing burns from people being careless with their cigarettes.

But in spite of these gripes, I really enjoyed myself at ASOT700 Sydney. Much more so than I expected, thanks to fantastic production, sound and the music of Gaia, Jorn van Deynhoven, Aly & Fila and the man himself, Armin van Buuren.

What a great year it’s been for trance. As well as some fantastic music, I’ve been lucky enough to attend festivals, boat parties and club nights around the world in six countries and three different continents! It’s really hard to compare a night out in Sydney with a festival set in the Netherlands, so there’s no ranking or order to this selection, but I have managed to whittle it down to ten fantastic nights/sets/experiences that will linger in the memory for many years. Actually, on a quick recount, I’ve only narrowed it down to 11, but that will have to do, as none of these deserves to be left off the list.

I’ve written about them all before, of course, so I’m not going to go into detail about each one. Rather, I’ll quickly summarise something about each that made it special.

In chronological order:

Simon Patterson at Voodoo, Home, Sydney – 21 February
This was the best Voodoo night so far. They’d fixed the sound, there was a great turnout and Simon Patterson delivered the goods in a three-hour tour-de-force late into the night (this was before the ludicrous new curfew law was introduced in Sydney). 

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Aly & Fila at Club Zouk, Singapore – 12 April
This was an unexpected, last minute treat, made possible by Ste and Ellen, and by Stuart – so big thanks to all three. Casting around for something to do at the end of our five-week SE Asian holiday, we discovered that Fadi would be playing in Singapore and all we had to do was get ourselves there from Kuala Lumpur. Thanks to fantastically cheap flights, we had a brilliant night and made new friends. And of course the music was sensational.

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Orkidea 1991-2000 Classics Special at Luminosity Beach Festival – 6 July
The whole festival could be listed here, as there is really nothing to compare to Luminosity Beach Festival for trance. But Orkidea’s set at the start of the third day stands out above all the others (and there were some amazing sets played). From Saltwater to Unity, it was goosebumps all the way and, without question, the best set I’ve ever been privileged to bear witness to.

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Aly & Fila on the Driftwood boat party, Ibiza – 28 July
Driftwood boat parties are the best thing about Ibiza and Fadi is not the kind of DJ to dial up the same set for sunset as he does deep into the night, so there was a completely different feel to his set from the one we heard in Singapore. As the overcast afternoon cleared up into a glorious, brilliant sunset and We Control The Sunset filled our ears with joy, there wasn’t a better place to be, anywhere in the world.

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Pure Trance Ibiza with Orkidea, Solarstone & Giuseppe Ottaviani at Sunk, Privilege, Ibiza – 29 July
I’m a huge fan of Solarstone and his Pure Trance brand of music. So a night in Ibiza which also included sets from both the collaborators on the first two volumes of Pure Trance was the perfect follow-up to the previous day’s boat party, as well as the chance to make new friends with fellow trance fans.

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Future Sound Of Egypt 350 at Ministry Of Sound, London – 22 August
Our last night in London for the year and only possible because we’d extended our stay so we didn’t miss it. The awesome Ministry sound system in The Box, with Solarstone and Aly & Fila playing great sets and our first chance to hear Standerwick play would have made it a top night anyway. But getting a chance to chat to Rich Solarstone and Ian Standerwick as well, not to mention the set from John Askew, make this probably my pick of the year as far as clubbing is concerned.

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140 with Jordan Suckley and Allen & Envy at the Oxford Art Factory, Sydney – 6 September
Our first night out in Sydney after we got back and this was an unexpected surprise. I’d been disappointed by both Suckley and A&E when I’d seen them in Holland, so the fact that they both played really great uplifting trance sets in a lovely, intimate venue made it a real treat. I hope there will be more 140 nights to come.

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J00F Editions with John 00 Fleming at Chinese Laundry, Sydney – 13 September
I’ve seen John 00 Fleming several times over the years, but this was easily the best, at least for me. The Cave isn’t everyone’s idea of a great room for dance music, but it’s simply perfect for J00F. No fancy light show, no stage for the DJ to be worshipped from, nothing but a great sound system and, now, improved ventilation. I’ll never forget the moment when I realised he was dropping Tiësto – Suburban Train, one of my all-time favourite tunes.

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Aly & Fila The Other Shore Tour at the Metro, Sydney – 4 October
This is the fourth entry for Aly & Fila on my list, but probably my favourite. Having seen him four times already in 2014, I thought I knew what to expect. But I was wrong. Fadi played a wonderful set, moving through psy-trance into uplifting and tore a hole in the roof of the Metro. He wanted to play another hour and it was a real pity that the only people there who didn’t want him to were the venue’s management, even after he offered personally to foot any extra costs!

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Digital Therapy with Ferry Tayle at 122 Bar, Sydney – 8 November
A really small, but completely packed out underground bar was the perfect setting for another great Digital Therapy night, with Ferry Tayle making his debut appearance in Sydney. The intimate setting, allied to awesome uplifting trance and great mixing made this one of the best Digital Therapy nights to date.

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RISE with Craig Connelly, Photographer, Harmonic Rush and Binary Finary at the Oxford Art Factory, Sydney – 27 December
This night is still very fresh in the memory, as I write. But I think it deserves to be included as the mix of psy and uplifting trance worked so well in a great venue, with stunning lasers. It looks to be the start of something very good for trance in Sydney.

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Lastly, this is a chance to say thank you to all my readers and wish them season’s greetings. And a special thank you to the photographers who have so kindly given permission for me to use their photos – Luke Davids, Anne d’Antimi and Alan Donaldson. Not forgetting all the awesome DJs and promoters for making it all happen.

Now … bring on 2015!

Anyone who thought trance was dead must surely have realised their mistake in 2014. Unless they’ve had their ears tuned in the wrong direction, they would have heard so many amazing tunes that narrowing it down to a top 5 or even top 10 is just too difficult; certainly it is for me.

And to top last year, when I listed my best 20 tunes of the year, this year I’m going one better … so here are my favourite 21 tunes of 2014, in alphabetical order – choosing just 21 tunes was hard enough; ranking them would be nigh on impossible.

Aly & FilaAltitude Compensation

From their third artist album, The Other Shore, which is simply fantastic. Too difficult to choose just one, so this is the first of five tracks from it that I’ve put in my top 21.

SilvermineFlying (Solarstone Pure Mix)

From Solarstone Presents Pure Trance V3. Another amazing compilation/mix from Solarstone, packed with great tunes, expertly mixed by Solarstone, with Bryan Kearney on mix duties for the second disc. And this is the first of six tunes from it in my 21.

Aly & Fila feat. Jaren For All Time

Another from The Other Shore, this is a great uplifting vocal trance tune in classic Aly & Fila style. I love it!

Aly & Fila vs. SneijderFull Throttle

The third tune from The Other Shore, this time in collaboration with the brilliant Sneijder. This is a great 140BPM tune that seems to be played by a lot of great DJs at the moment.

John O’Callaghan feat. Jennifer ReneGames (Standerwick Remix)

You can rely on John O’Callaghan to produce a number of great tunes each year, but it’s the Standerwick remix that really stands out for me. What a year it’s been for Standerwick – I’ve loved so many of his originals, collaborations and remixes. This is just one of five of his tunes that I’ve selected for my 21.

LyctumGreece 2000

This year I’ve really started to appreciate psy-trance, but I have to admit that I don’t know much about it, really. This is the first of three psy-trance tunes I’ve chosen and it’s a remake of the all-time classic from Three Drives On A Vinyl. It’s a bit different and I love it!

Liquid SoulI See The Spirit

More psy-trance, from one of the producers who I’ve really got into this year. Hearing John 00 Fleming drop this in the Cave was one of this year’s highlights.

Sied van Riel vs. StanderwickIn A Perfect World (Solarstone Pure Mix)

That man Standerwick again, this time in collaboration with Sied van Riel and given the magical Pure touch by Solarstone. This is simply wonderful!

The Thrillseekers & StanderwickLike They Used To

For months after Renee and I first heard this tune in the download of Standerwick’s set at ASOT650NL, it was just IDID and we were desperate to find out what it was, as we loved it so much. Then it was released in Aly & Fila’s Trance Nation compilation CD and we were delighted to learn who made it. I don’t think it’s had the recognition it deserves and hasn’t been played nearly enough. Another example of Standerwick as the emerging talent of the year!

Liquid Soul & DJ DreamLiquid Dream

More psy-trance and more Liquid Soul. It was great to hear Aly & Fila drop this at the Metro in October.

Gai BaroneMr. Slade (Solarstone Pure Mix)

This is a lovely tune, again from the wonderful Pure Trance V3. It’s one of those tunes that seem to get better every time you hear them.

Aly & Fila with Ferry TayleNubia

Aly & Fila’s album is full of wonderful tunes, but this one just might be my favourite. I’m a big fan of Ferry Tayle, who played great sets this year at Luminosity Beach Festival and at Digital Therapy in Sydney. I could listen to this tune again and again and again.

Luke Bond feat. Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila Remix)

Aly & Fila worked their magic on this tune which was played seemingly everywhere earlier this year. It’s still really good, I reckon, and yet another A&F tune in my list, on top of all those taken from their album!

OrkideaPurity (Original Mix)

What a wonderful tune this is – probably Orkidea’s best since Unity; and I’m sure it will be considered a classic in due course. Hard to choose between the original and the Sneijder remix, but I’ve opted for the original. I almost put both in my list!

EcanoRun (Z2 vs Neptune Project LSD Remix)

Like Greece 2000, this is a very old tune, but it’s been given an acidic twist by Neptune Project and Solarstone included it in his Pure Trance compilation. It’s the perfect end to disc one.

No video for this one, but you can listen on Soundcloud here.

Aly & Fila with Skypatrol feat. Sue McLarenRunning

My final selection from The Other Shore and bringing together Standerwick and ReOrder (Skypatrol), Aly & Fila and the vocals of Sue McLaren. Such a great tune.

Pink FloydShine On The Dark Side Of The Moon (Neptune Project’s Out There With Pluto Mix)

Is this by Pink Floyd or is it by Neptune Project? Probably the latter, really. I usually loathe trance remixes of rock tracks, but maybe Pink Floyd’s music is more appropriate to the trance treatment than, say, Coldplay? Or maybe Pink Floyd is just much better than Coldplay in the first instance? Either way, this tune blew me away when I first heard it and it was also great to hear it played through the sound system at Space in Ibiza. This might be my favourite tune of 2014.

Standerwick & ReOrder pres. SkypatrolSkyres

Skypatrol first came to everyone’s attention last year with the awesome tune Folding Your Universe. And although this isn’t the next tune off the rank, it’s definitely the next one of the same calibre. I’m really looking forward to hearing this live … maybe we’ll get a Skypatrol tour of Australia in 2015? Here’s hoping!

Solarstone & OrkideaSlowmotion III (Solarstone Remix)

The third in this series of collaborations between the original Pure Trance collaborators is, in my humble opinion, the best so far. There are three versions: the original mix plus remixes by Orkidea and by Solarstone. They’re all fantastic and the Orkidea remix is an epic that clocks in at 13 minutes 22 seconds. The Solarstone version isn’t as long, but just edges it for me as the best of the three. But they’re all gold.

Ferry Tayle feat. PoppyThe Way Back Home (Dan Stone Remix)

France hasn’t been noted for its contribution to the trance music scene, but Ferry Tayle is right up there for me as a great producer and DJ. As noted above, he played wonderfully both times I saw him this year, and I love this track. There’s also a good remix by Matt Bowdidge and the original mix on Ferry Tayle’s album, The Wizard, is good too, but I’ve chosen the Dan Stone remix for my list.

Will Atkinson Victims

This is probably many people’s choice of tune of the year, and I’m sure it’s one that we’ll keep hearing for some time yet. It’s archetypal uplifting trance and the kind of tune that you can’t help loving if you’re a fan of the genre. Sadly I missed out on the chance to see Will Atkinson this year, but hopefully we can put that right in 2015.

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If you look back through past posts to this blog, you will see that I have seen Aly & Fila more than any other DJ over the past couple of years. This is partly down to fortuitous circumstance and partly down to my determination not to pass up any opportunity to see my favourite DJ. As a result, travel plans have been altered twice this year, so that we could see Fadi (the Fila in Aly & Fila – Aly doesn’t do any of the DJ’ing) playing in Singapore and in London – and we chose which week to visit Ibiza this year so that we would catch his set on the Driftwood sunset cruise (and thus happened also to be in Ibiza when he played at Space). But my familiarity with Aly & Fila’s music does not lead to any lesser sense of anticipation when another gig comes around and I was excited as much for the show at Sydney’s Metro Theatre on Saturday as I had been for any of the other times we’ve seen Fadi play recently.

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In contrast, it was more than 18 months since we’d been to an event at the Metro – a venue I’ve always criticised for poor sound: my concerns about this were the only dampener on the high expectations I had for the night.

As it turned out, my worries were completely misplaced and I can only say that the sound system on Saturday night was fantastic – deep and rich, yet clear and not muddy or distorted. So much better than before and something to really congratulate the production team at Genesis for having resolved the problems.

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And to go with the really good sound was a wonderful display of visuals, lights and lasers (provided by Man Lie) to match. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the visual spectacle, but hopefully some of the pictures and videos help do justice to what our eyes were treated to.

The show was sold out and we managed to negotiate a long queue deftly, by finding a friend near the head of the line. As a result, we got in early and started off listening to the tunes that Tonto was playing in the side room. He was mixing tunes like Simon Patterson feat. Sarah Howells – Dissolve and Push – The Legacy, while we caught up with our friends and grabbed some drinks.

Soon it was time to make our way into the packed main room and find a good spot to enjoy the night’s headline act – Aly & Fila. You would think that having seen him four times already this year, I’d know what to expect, but I was utterly unprepared for the way the first hour of the set developed.


Fadi opened the set with Betsie Larkin & Giuseppe Ottaviani – Toys, a great tune from 2012, dark and melodic, with Larkin’s fabulous vocals at their very best. But before long, he moved into psy-trance territory, something that very few in the crowd can have been expecting. Throughout the night, he mixed uplifting trance skilfully with psy-trance and what a vibe this created! It truly was an exceptional set, beautifully structured as a journey, and I loved every minute of it.

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Mixed in with the psy tunes were classic tunes from the Aly & Fila back catalogue, such as FKN feat. Jahala – Why? (Aly & Fila Remix), Rapid Eye – Circa Forever (Aly & Fila Remix), Aly & Fila feat. Jwaydan – We Control The Sunlight and tracks like Nubia (with Ferry Tayle), Full Throttle (with Sneijder), Altitude Compensation, For All Time (feat. Jaren), Running (with Skypatrol and feat. Sue McLaren) from the new album, The Other Shore, released only one day earlier. We also heard more great tracks such as John O’Callaghan feat. Jennifer Rene – Games (Standerwick Remix), Andain – Beautiful Things (Fady & Mina Remix) and Luke Bond feat. Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila Remix).

Not only were we being treated to fantastic music, there was also a really friendly atmosphere among the crowd. Sometimes at busy events, there can be an element who are a bit pushy, unfriendly and rather too drunk. But not here – the PLUR vibe flowed strongly through the room and contributed to making the night special.


The music seemed to get better and better and Fadi kept mixing up the psy-trance tunes with the uplifting trance he’s more noted for and the crowd simply couldn’t get enough of it all. With daylight savings kicking in at 2am, this meant that the 4am closing time was coming round all too soon and, as he brought things to a close with Aly & Fila and Solarstone – Fireisland (Aly & Fila Uplifting Mix), Aly & Fila and Roger Shah feat. Sylvia Tosun – Eye 2 Eye (FSOE 350 Anthem) and Oceanlab – Satellite, the Metro was still packed to the rafters.


What happened next will stay for me for a very long time. Fadi picked up the microphone to say thank you to Sydney, and proceeded to beg with the venue management to let him play not just one more song, but one more hour and offering to pay himself any penalty that might be incurred. I’m sure that if they’d let him, he wouldn’t have played just another hour but longer still than that. His last club performance in Sydney, at Home nightclub in late 2012, had been billed originally as a 90 minute set, but had turned into well over three hours by the time he was dragged off the decks. But, sadly, the Metro’s management was unrelenting and we had to be satisfied with just one more song: Aly & Fila feat. Ever Burn – Is It Love?


And once he’d finally stopped playing, he spent almost three quarters of an hour chatting to his fans who waited patiently to speak to him and have photos taken. What a legend … and what a sensational night this was! Without any doubt, one of the best nights of the year for me and definitely the best I’ve had in Sydney all year. Days later and I’m still buzzing from it. This was a five star night and the only negative was that it had to end. Let’s hope Fadi comes back to Sydney soon and next time he’s allowed to play for as long as he wants!

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Many thanks to Luke Davids Photography for the awesome photos! The shaky videos are my own.

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Our long stay in Europe was coming to an end and we were booked on the 10pm flight out of Heathrow on Saturday, but that gave us time to enjoy one more night out in London before flying away until next year. And it could hardly have been a better prospect than my two favourite DJs, plus the DJ who had been top of my “must see” list ever since I’d downloaded and listened to the ASOT650 set he delivered at Utrecht in February. It was also a perfect opportunity to say goodbye for another year to many of our London trance family friends.

With the night being broadcast live and a long roster of DJs, it was an early start and we were inside the Ministry before midnight – Ruben de Ronde had already opened proceedings in the Box. We were busy catching up with friends and chatting, but the music was building nicely – with the room filling up and the tunes warming everyone up on an unseasonably cold night for August in London. Among the tunes I noted were Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston – You Got To Go, Armin van Buuren – Ping Pong, Super8 & Tab – Elektra, Armin van Buuren – The Sound Of Goodbye, and Above & Beyond – Small Moments.

Next up was Hazem Beltagui – a DJ whose name I had heard in connection with the Future Sound Of Egypt label (indeed he comes from Alexandria), but whose music I wasn’t familiar with. With the stellar line-up of the rest of the night, we decided to take a break from the Box and retreated in search of drinks. Hopefully we’ll get another chance to catch him soon, as I heard he played a great set.

Regular readers will know how big a fan I am of Solarstone, the DJ behind the Pure Trance movement. I never miss a chance to catch him playing, and I listen to his weekly podcast avidly. He took over from Hazem and soon had the dance floor buzzing as he opened with Solarstone – 4 Ever (Pure Retouch). The next 60 minutes were a wonderful exposition of what Pure Trance is all about, as we heard a succession of Solarstone productions and Pure remixes: Solarstone & Orkidea – Slowmotion III (Solarstone Remix), Solarstone feat. Lemon – Lovers (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix), Solarstone – Voyager, iKo – Heart Of Stone (Solarstone Pure Mix), closing with London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years (Solarstone Pure Mix). This was another superb Solarstone set: great music combined with the wonderful sound in the Box and a lights and lasers show to complement it perfectly. And on a personal note, it was really nice to meet and chat to Rich himself and his manager Paula before his set.

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Now it was time for the night’s headliner, Aly & Fila, and the anticipation levels in the room were at bursting point it seemed. We’d seen Fadi twice in Ibiza recently, but he is never predictable and in a different setting, I didn’t know what to expect – only that it would be 90 minutes to remember. Yet again, it was fantastic from start to finish as he dropped tune after tune in his signature uplifting style.

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Opening with Aly & Fila – Key Of Life and playing tunes such as Luke Bond feat. Roxanne Emery – On Fire (Aly & Fila Remix), Aly & Fila & Sneijder – Full Throttle (from the forthcoming album, The Other Shore), Delerium feat. Leigh Nash – Innocente (Paul Denton & Alex Ryan Rework), Giuseppe Ottaviani & Aly & Fila – Brilliant People (Mark Sherry Remix), Reflekt feat. Delline Bass – Need To Feel Loved (The Thrillseekers Remix), Will Atkinson – Victims, Aly & Fila feat. Sue McLaren – Where To Now (Will Atkinson Gold Mix) and Randy Katana – In Silence (Omar Sherif 2014 Remix), he finally brought his set to a close with the FSOE 350 Anthem: Aly & Fila & Roger Shah feat. Sylvia Tosun – Eye 2 Eye. The packed dance floor in the Box seemed to love every minute of the set and my impression was that there were a higher proportion of true trance fans and a lower percentage of “tourist clubbers” than is normally the case at the Ministry Of Sound.


It’s a tough act to follow Fadi, but John Askew with his darker style is one DJ who can take on such an assignment. Sure enough, the energy level was maintained by tunes such as John Askew – Giving You Acid (Harmonic Rush On Salvia Remix), Nero – Satisfy (Talla 2XLC Inf3rno Rework), Commander Tom – Are Am Eye (John Askew Remix) and John Askew – Mechanism. We needed a breather before the next and last set, but we caught most of Askew’s set and he is the perfect DJ for that time of night.

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Last but not least was the DJ who we’d been longing to see ever since we’d heard the set he’d played on the Who’s Afraid Of 138?! stage at A State Of Trance 650 in February – Standerwick. 2014 seems to have been a breakthrough year for him and with some great productions and collaborations (in particular with ReOrder and with The Thrillseekers) for him to include in his sets, I think he is definitely one to watch out for. His DJ style is uncompromisingly uplifting, hard and driving – just what is needed at the end of a great night like this. He mashed up Standerwick – Valyrian with Ørjan Nilsen – Between The Rays, played Vincent De Moor – Fly Away (Sean Tyas Remix), John O’Callaghan feat. Jennifer Rene – Games (Ian Standerwick Remix), Armin van Buuren feat. Aruna – Won’t Let You Go (Ian Standerwick Remix) and drew the night to a conclusion with Aly & Fila – Laily (Photographer Remix). It was certainly a contender for set of the night, against some very stiff competition!


We said our goodbyes and left blinking into the Saturday morning light and set off home ready to spend the day preparing for the long flight back to Sydney. It was the perfect way to end our visit to London in 2014. Time to make plans for next year. And to hope we will be lucky enough to catch a Future Sound Of Egypt 400 show somewhere!