Archives for posts with tag: Cream

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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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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Back in Ibiza and what better way to start the holiday with a night at Amnesia, for Cream with Paul van Dyk and Eddie Halliwell? And after the ridiculous delay to our flight, caused, apparently, by hot weather in London, of all places, we were certainly very ready to let the dancing begin.

Amnesia is my favourite club in the world. There’s something special about this place that’s hard to define. The sound system is awesome, naturally. The main room always has an incredible vibe. And then there are the ice cannons. You get ice cannons in other places too, of course – but nowhere are they as powerful and all-enveloping as here. When the room is so hot you feel faint and the beats build to a drop, the anticipation of the icy blast is almost as good as the refreshment it delivers. And it was at Amnesia, five years ago (less one week) that Renée and I met, starting the best five years of my life.

They’ve changed things a bit at Amnesia this year. Before, the DJ played up in the balcony, at VIP level. Now that part of the balcony is gone and there is a large DJ booth on the floor beneath where the balcony originally was. The DJ is still elevated and this probably gives a better connection to the dance floor from their point of view. But there was something unique about the old arrangement which I think has been lost with the change.

We arrived on the dot of 1:30, just as Eddie Halliwell started his set. After the disappointment of his New Year set in Sydney (see earlier blog post), my expectations weren’t so high. But this time around, he played a very good warm up set, building steadily so that by the time he handed over, the stage was perfectly set for PvD. He dropped all sorts of great classics, most memorably Rank 1 – Airwave and Push – Universal Nation. But overall, I felt that the set was all over the place – there didn’t seem to be a logical progression to the tunes and it felt a bit random in terms of which track followed which.

So at 3am we were ready for Paul van Dyk and he started very strongly, taking the BPMs up a level and increasing the energy on the dancefloor. Early in his set he was playing lots of mash-ups but as the night drew on, he started to let the individual tunes speak for themselves, sometimes adding a live keyboard phrase on top. We heard Underworld – Born Slippy , Ummet Ozcan – The Box and his own tunes like For An Angel and One More Time.

Although he was playing some great stuff, there were some points when I felt the set was losing its flow a little, but in the second hour he got more focused and much more trancey. And full of great classics, like Chicane – Saltwater, Robert Miles – Children and even The Thrillseekers – Synaethesia. He played his smash tune from the Evolution album, I Don’t Deserve You, but I don’t like the original mix anywhere near as much as Giuseppe Ottaviani’s remix. The only sour note for me in the whole set was when he inexplicably dropped Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford – Sun & Moon. Seriously.

We’ve seen PvD play better than this, most notably two years ago, again at Amnesia. But this was a great set and a perfect way to re-experience Amnesia. And it was fantastic catching up with so many friends, both from Australia and from London. I can’t wait to return next year for more of the same.