Archives for posts with tag: John 00 Fleming

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!

Paul van Dyk
, 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.


After almost three months in Europe, we were back in Sydney and our first outing was to the Chinese Laundry to see the great John 00 Fleming play an open-to-close six hour set in the Cave. His set last year had been amazing and I was really looking forward to seeing if he could repeat the magic.

The Cave – the backroom in the Chinese Laundry – is not everyone’s cup of tea as a venue for dancing, but it is right up J00F’s street (to mix metaphors!). The low ceilings give the room the feel of a shoebox in dimensions and the unassuming DJ booth, stuck in one corner mean that the music takes precedence and there is virtually no “production” to speak of. And it can get very hot in there too. But these factors all combine to give it the underground vibe that suits Fleming’s style. Improvements to the air-conditioning have helped somewhat with the heat factor, but the room can still get very crowded and, on this occasion, I felt it was far too packed – making it uncomfortable and difficult to dance at times.

But with John 00 Fleming playing, you can be sure of a friendly and knowledgable crowd – even if it took the security guys a couple of hours to realise that trouble was unlikely. Their biggest problem was trying (without success, I think) to track down the unmistakable aroma of cannabis that that occasionally drifted their way.

The set began at a leisurely, progressive pace, but it was a lovely groove that engaged people quickly – especially when the familiar notes of Andain – Beautiful Things filled the room. It was getting harder to dance without regularly being jostled, so we edged closer to the front and found a bit more room, but less air. If the music hadn’t been so good, I think we might have given up on the night. Airwave – A Touch Of Grace was another awesome tune that J00F dropped around this time.

There’s no doubt that the part of the set I enjoyed most was between about 01:00 and 02:30 – this was J00F at his tranciest, where the melodies flood over the beats and make you want the night to last forever. Again, the familiar notes of Faithless – Salva Mea drew a great reaction from the packed dance floor. As the night wore on, getting closer to the end, the beats drove us on and, although I was definitely tiring, it was only the concern not to miss the last bus home that forced us to call it a night and make our way out.

This was a really good set, but probably not as good as last year’s triumph. The Cave was a lot busier this year, however, and for all its dingey underground charms, I do think that a different venue, perhaps somewhere like the Civic Underground, would make for a much better night overall. Whether Fleming can be convinced of this, however, seems unlikely. And I guess he might also be unwilling to disrupt the relationship that he now has with the Chinese Laundry promoters.

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). 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.


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!

A little under a year since his last visit to Sydney, John 00 Fleming returned for a five hour set at his favourite venue down under – the Cave, at the Chinese Laundry. I’d not hugely enjoyed the set he played last September, but I do know how good he can be, so despite some misgivings (our last visit had been somewhat marred by the over-zealous yellow-jacketed security), we got ourselves into the Cave nice and early, so as not to miss a beat.

Fleming often comments how much he likes playing in the Cave and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a smallish shoebox-shaped room, with low ceilings, several pillars and a small, unelevated, DJ booth located in one corner. There’s no flashing lights, lasers, screens or anything visual – it’s all about the music and the sound system is very good. It’s just the kind of down-to-earth, unpretentious space that suits J00F and his style of trance. Since our last visit, they have even improved the ventilation and the air-conditioning does a pretty good job of keeping the heat down. Unfortunately, the yellow-jackets are still too much in evidence, wandering through the room regularly, looking for what, I have no idea. At least they didn’t have one of their number standing on the DJ booth throughout the night, like they did last year.

J00F arrived at the appointed hour, 11pm, to much excitement in the still-filling room. And over the next five hours he took us all on an incredible journey that quite surpassed any set of his I’ve heard live before. Starting deep and techno, he slowly drew us in and started adding layers of melody to the driving beats. Only occasionally did we hear any vocals, like when he dropped a remix of iiO – Rapture.

Moving through progressive trance towards the 140 BPM range, he was entrancing me with so many tunes I didn’t recognise, but just loved. And with his wide-mouthed, beaming smile, you could tell he was loving it too. The moment when the dancefloor really went wild was when he dropped Tiësto – Suburban Train. With about 75 minutes of the five hours left, he now moved more firmly into psy-trance territory, playing tunes like Liquid Soul – I See The Spirit.

With our last bus home due to leave at 4am, we had to leave ten minutes early, but we contemplated missing the bus and staying to the end, so good was the music. I could easily have enjoyed another hour or two like this, and would have been jealous of the Melbourne trance community who had been treated to an 8-hour J00F set the night before, had I not been told by people at both events that the Sydney set was better, despite being shorter.

Let’s hope it’s not too long before I get another chance to catch John 00 Fleming in a nightclub somewhere around the world. But we’ll definitely be there the next time he plays the Cave – a venue more suited to him is difficult to imagine.

20140719-171905-62345633.jpgNearly a fortnight has now passed since the festival finished and we bade farewell to the United Nations of trance families. Old friends and new, from countries as diverse as USA and Finland, Australia and South Africa, Israel and Iran, The Netherlands (of course) and Brazil. And all assembled on the edge of a windswept North Sea beach to celebrate a common love of trance. If you are a fan of real trance music, this is quite simply the best festival anywhere in the world. Which is why people travel from far and wide to share their passion for the music.

20140719-172123-62483383.jpgThere are so many things that set it apart from other festivals – think about the things that you don’t like about the festivals you’ve been to recently … well Luminosity is free of these irritations, whether it be commercial EDM or roided-up bogans (to use a great Australian term), causing mayhem with their showy, aggressive posturing and inability to control themselves after a few beers. There are some things that are annoying … the toilet wristband principal among them … but it’s silly to whinge about minor issues when everything else is so good.

Of course, there are two stages and fantastic trance DJs playing simultaneously on both, so inevitably you miss out on lots of great music, the consolation being that you hear great music and sets on the other stage. The list of DJs whose sets we missed would make a great festival line-up on its own. Sean Tyas, Menno de Jong, Simon Patterson, Lange, Andy Moor, Oliver Lieb, Eddie Bitar, etc. And we couldn’t catch all of the sets of many DJs, drawn by the rival attractions on the other stage.

20140719-235354-86034586.jpgFriday 4th was the day everyone was gathering from around the world. Meeting friends at Schipol Airport and catching up as we caught two trains out to Zandvoort and checked ourselves into the hotel. Only just time to unpack before heading to Club Fuel on Bloemandaal beach, the festival site. Switching strategically between stages we managed to catch some of Allen & Envy (yes, they did drop Silhouette), Activa, Christopher Lawrence, James Dymond and John 00 Fleming.

20140719-172702-62822236.jpgEarlier we heard the whole of Signum‘s set, which was, perhaps unexpectedly, the highlight of day one for me. It was hard to pull ourselves away from J00F’s excellent set, but we were so keen to see Angry Man over on the Sunrise Beach stage that we left before the end. And after Angry Man, we stayed for Bryan Kearney, who played a fantastic set to close the Sunrise Beach stage that night.

After a few late vodkas back at the hotel, we dragged ourselves up in the morning and went in search of lunch. Finding a friend celebrating her birthday, it was the perfect opportunity to start the day with some prosecco and blow away the cobwebs from the night before. We hurried to the beach to make sure we didn’t miss any of Driftmoon‘s set. I’m such a fan of the Howl At The Moon track that Solarstone picked out for his Pure Trance Volume 2 CD that I really wanted to hear what a full set of Driftmoon tunes would be like.

20140719-172826-62906042.jpgAnd while all the women were commenting on the eye-candy factor, I was bewitched by the ear-candy. It was such a great set and when we met him later, we discovered that he’s a really nice guy too, clearly enjoying playing his music to appreciative trance lovers.

Driftmoon handed over to Re-Order (a fellow Slovak and one half of Skypatrol with Ian Standerwick). What a great time he had, and so did we, as he played a rollicking set of tunes and having a great time behind the decks – obviously a real character.

20140719-234348-85428044.jpgAs the end of Re-Order’s set approached, we moved across to the Copacabana Beach stage for Arctic Moon. The start of his set was assailed by technical problems, but he soldiered on and soon hit his stride, jumping around with delight as much as the crowd when he dropped Armin van Buuren – Communication. I’m not a huge fan of the way he brings indie tunes into the trance arena, for example his mash-up of REM – Losing My Religion with Arctic Moon & Bryan Kearney – Dreamers and Dreams. But I’m obviously in a minority as most people loved the way he drew the set to a close.

Ferry Tayle took over and we enjoyed the half hour or so we heard before switching stages to catch Aussie Matt Bowdidge. Perhaps because he’s a friend, I sometimes feel slightly reluctant to shower too much praise on Matt, but I think we have very similar tastes in music and I always love his sets. This time he played a number of new tunes of his, but the fact that they were unfamiliar to me hardly mattered as I just loved everything he played. He even managed to drop one of my favourite trance classics, Sean Tyas – Lift, perhaps in acknowledgment of the fact that by dancing to his set, we were missing out on seeing Tyas himself. As I said, I always enjoy Matt’s sets, but this was the one I enjoyed most so far.

20140719-234548-85548856.jpgAfter Matt’s set, we caught Manuel Le Saux on the main stage and the end of Johan Ekman on the smaller stage. But we were just killing time before Adam Ellis, whose productions and “The Void” podcasts have really caught my ears in the last 12 months. And I wasn’t disappointed – even though I had been warned that his mixing wasn’t top notch, the choice of tunes was so good I didn’t even notice and against tune selection, mixing skills matter far less, anyway. His remix of the Thrillseekers feat. El – The Last Time was great to hear, as was his remix of John O’Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher – Big Sky. And it really didn’t matter that he didn’t play his own Napalm Poet. It was a great conclusion to another wonderful day.

Sunday was all about the classics on the main stage and we knew we had to be on time for the start at midday, so that we wouldn’t miss a note of Orkidea‘s 1991-2000 opening 2 hour 45 minute set. We duly arrived to hear Chicane – Saltwater (The Thrillseekers Ambient Remix). It was the first of many great moments as we heard so many tunes that brought us out simultaneously in goosebumps. He moved from New Order – Blue Monday into Three Drives – Greece 2000. From Armin van Buuren – Blue Fear into BT feat. Jan Johnston – Mercury & Solace. From Bedrock – Heaven Scent into Sasha – Xpander. And finally from Energy 52 – Café del Mar into Orkidea – Unity.

20140719-234733-85653241.jpgThe whole set was mixed beautifully and as the crowd grew and everyone became more and more beguiled, it became apparent that we were sharing one of those special moments that don’t come along very often. I’d go as far as to say that it was the best set I’ve ever heard live. I was completely transported and utterly blown away by Orkidea. In a festival of the quality of Luminosity, it’s hard for one DJ to stand out so clearly above the others, but this was one of those occasions that you know will live forever in your memory.

After Orkidea, we had to do something very different and luckily we could switch away from the classics stage to hear Jaytech on the Sunrise Beach stage. We enjoyed his progressive tunes and, together with a break from the music while we chatted and caught up with Jimbo once he’d finished, this gave us suitable refreshment to return to the classics stage for Airwave‘s Bonsai Classics Specials set.

20140719-234846-85726086.jpgI’d never heard Airwave play before, but he completely won me over with his great tunes and infectious smile. Many of the tunes weren’t so familiar, but he dropped Push – Universal Nation and Push – The Legacy, two of my favourites, and lots of other great tracks, including many of his own productions and remixes. I loved it. On any other day it would probably have been the standout set, but on this occasion, there was no shame in being second best behind Orkidea.

It was clear that Super8 & Tab‘s Anjunabeats Classics set was eagerly awaited by many of the festival attendees, but as they gathered behind the stage, waiting to take over from Scott Bond, it became clear that many of their fellow DJs were also keen to hear what they would play. This is one of the features of Luminosity, that the DJs hang around to hear each other as opposed to rushing home, or sitting in the green room. But more than any other set, the sheer number of them gathered in the wings indicated that this was the set everyone – DJs and fans alike – wanted to hear.

20140719-234950-85790228.jpgAnd no-one was disappointed. It was a wonderfully nostalgic journey through the great years of the Anjunabeats label. Perhaps the early part didn’t quite catch fire, but the second half was thrilling and everyone was delighted by the way they moved from Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base – Razorfish, to Super8 & Tab – Helsinki Scorchin’, Oceanlab – Satellite, Luminary – Amsterdam (Super8 & Tab Remix) and Above & Beyond feat. Richard Bedford – Alone Tonight.

After the delights of Orkidea and Airwave, this was more wonderful music on the best of the three days of the best festival. If I seem to be struggling to come up with enough superlatives to describe this day, it’s because words really can’t do justice to the experience. Find and listen to these sets, but remember that nothing beats hearing them live, among so many friends and fellow enthusiasts of trance. And make sure that if you ever have a chance to go to Luminosity, you grasp it with both hands. It will be a life-enhancing, if not life-changing experience.

We also caught The Thrillseekers and Jorn van Deynhoven before the end of the festival and Adam Ellis back to back with Jordan Suckley at the after party. We finally called it a day while Indecent Noise banged out some harder tunes because the afterparty venue was too hot and the sound was awful in the only part of the club where we could breathe.

20140719-235530-86130882.jpgThe Thrillseekers had been the highlight of my first Luminosity Beach Festival in 2013, but this time, despite dropping some great tunes, I felt he never quite got into his stride. Maybe I was audiologically saturated by Orkidea, Airwave and Super8 & Tab? While I liked the tunes, the set as a whole failed to excite me as it did last year.

Trying to summarise this festival is an almost impossible task. There are so many great things about it. The music, the vibe, the people, the sense of community, the way the DJs are just another part of the crowd. Meeting friends you haven’t seen for ages. Making new friends you know you’ll keep for good. The absence of idiots out to spoil others’ fun. The sheer quality of the music. This is the best festival in the world for trance fans and if you haven’t been, please put it at the top of your must-do list. I am sure you won’t regret it.


Many thanks to the wonderful Alan Donaldson Photography for the use of his brilliant photos.

It was a tantalising prospect: Juventa and The Thrillseekers at Home nightclub on Friday and John 00 Fleming (or J00F) at Chinese Laundry on Saturday. I knew little about Juventa, but Steve Helstrip, aka The Thrillseekers, is a true legend of trance, primarily for his classic tune, Synaesthesia, which has to rank amongst my all-time favourite tracks. John 00 Fleming has also been around a long time, staying true to his underground, pure trance beliefs, with a style that blends uplifting and psy. I’ve seen him several times, but never before for an extended five-hour set.

But first let’s talk about Friday night’s Voodoo event. It was clear from the start that the club was not very full and the upstairs balcony area had not been opened up. But it wasn’t deserted as Juventa started just on the stroke of midnight. The latest from the seemingly endless Dutch trance DJ production line, Juventa is just 18 years old, so inevitably his style is more towards the Anjunabeats / Enhanced style of today. But he gave his set a definitively trancey feel, without too much overtly electro influence. He even managed to drop in a couple of old Tiësto classics – Love Comes Again and Flight 643. I enjoyed his set much more than I expected – perhaps because I didn’t really know what to expect and was worried it would be very trousey. 

The Thrillseekers started at 2am and immediately the tempo moved to the 138 BPM, uplifting style that I love so much. After his fantastic classics set at Luminosity Beach Festival, I was really excited to hear him again so soon. And I wasn’t disappointed – he played just over two hours of amazing tunes, blending classics (like Solarstone – Solarcoaster, Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – Silence (Tiësto’s In Search Of Sunrise Remix) and Push – The Legacy) with many of his own wonderful tracks – Song For Sendai, Anywhere With You (feat. Stine Grove), The Last Time (feat. Fisher), Everything (feat. Stine Grove) and, of course, Synaesthesia. And just after 4am, he dropped a psy-trance track that blew me away – I’d love to know what it was. Eventually it had to end, and he closed with Veracocha – Carte Blanche: a brilliant way to finish a simply fantastic set.

Unfortunately, a lot of the clubbers who had enjoyed Juventa’s set didn’t hang around to find out how good The Thrillseekers was. It says a lot about the state of the local trance scene that the younger trance fans aren’t keen to see a legendary act such as The Thrillseekers and maybe they don’t have the same response as I do when the music becomes uplifting. A real shame, because a set like that deserved a full house and an amazing response. However those who did stay were well-rewarded and had plenty of space to dance enthusiastically to the great music.

The following night saw us back in the city, this time at Chinese Laundry, for J00F Editions with John 00 Fleming. The Cave room is not to everyone’s taste, but I like it. The sound is fantastic and the set-up with the DJ booth in the corner, unelevated, and only the simplest of lighting, means that it’s all about the music. It can get packed and very hot in there, but not on this occasion.

The only negative for me was that the security was so intrusive. I can’t remember seeing a yellow flouro coated bouncer in there before, but tonight there must have been five or six of them. One of them stood up on the barrier to the DJ booth all night, inspecting the crowd – it felt a little intimidating. And on several occasions, bouncers pushed their way aggressively through, without any hint of apology for knocking into people. And the only thing that seemed to worry them was people dancing in front of the emergency exit – it’s hard to figure out why that was a problem anyway. It’s never been like that before in the Cave and there was nothing in the behaviour of anyone there that remotely justified it.

J00F’s set was typical of his dark, driving style of trance. He gets you into a groove and doesn’t let go. But if I’m completely honest, I prefer to have more melodies in my music and, feeling a little tired after the amazing night with The Thrillseekers, I wasn’t overwhelmed by this set. Perhaps if he’d had less than five hours to take us on the journey, I’d have enjoyed it more. In the end, we decided to leave about an hour before the end.

So, it’s just over a week since the end of Miami Music Week and, if the dust hasn’t exactly settled, it’s now time to reflect on our time there.  Firstly, and most importantly, I’d leap at the chance to go again.  The club nights, at large venues like Space, or intimate nightspots like Dream, were simply fantastic.  Rubbing shoulders with the DJs, meeting like-minded music fans from around the globe and some great (if not always well-organised) boat parties made for a week that couldn’t be equalled, even in Ibiza.

But I wouldn’t bother with Ultra Music Festival again.  And yet it was a very impressive festival, with incredible stage set-ups and the best sound systems that I’ve ever come across at music festivals.  Maybe I’m jaded by so many festivals or maybe the festival sets that the big name DJs deliver are not what I really want to hear – and I know that in a club they are much more in tune with my tastes. I think I’ve probably been to my last big festival. From now on, I’m going to stick to boutique festivals and club nights or small parties. (But don’t quote me!)

There were so many surreal experiences in just ten days … bumping into Markus Schulz on Washington Avenue and talking to him about the ten hour set he’d played the night before … chatting to Menno de Jong as we both waited for the toilet on the Musette boat … Renee being recognised by Giuseppe Ottaviani when we got into Club Souz for Pure Trance … getting John 00 Fleming to pose with the sign for Ayesha … the Sol Republic shuttle bus that was a nightclub inside … Paul van Dyk joining us on the dancefloor when Giuseppe dropped No More Alone … and that’s before saying how good the music was.  Award for most bizarre has to go to the Saturday bus trip and the spliff being passed round by the Sol Republic rep!

So many great sets, it’s hard to pick out my favourite.  The contenders would be Markus Schulz’s ten-hour marathon at Space (we lasted longest of the whole group, but even we had to admit defeat after seven hours); Aly & Fila – both of Fadi’s sets were incredible, I don’t think I could choose between the set at Dream or the set on the boat party; Giuseppe Ottaviani – again two great sets, one at Dream, the other at Club Souz; Solarstone – two hours of awesome Pure Trance just blew me away.  John O’Callaghan’s set on the boat would surely rate amongst these if it hadn’t been cut short after a sensational hour.  I’m going to pick Solarstone as my favourite set of the week, but it was a close thing (although if the sound at Club Souz had been better, I think he would have run away with it as best set).

And I really can’t choose between Global Connection (at Dream on Tuesday) and Pure Trance as my favourite nights of the whole trip.  I loved both nights so much … and feel very lucky to have been able to be there.

Biggest disappointment was missing out on seeing Faithless.  We really couldn’t face the rest of Day 2 at Ultra, just to see Faithless play towards the end of the night and we were worried about the logistics of seeing them and getting back in time to change and go out for Pure Trance.  We were also upset that we missed out on the Anjunabeats Pool Party, partly due to not arriving earlier and partly due to the accommodation nightmare that we had to resolve as an urgent priority.

Best of all was spending a week partying to such great music with so many good friends from around the world, old and new.  Now it’s time to start thinking about Ibiza in early August and Future Sound Of Egypt 300 and Luminosity Beach Festival in Amsterdam on 16/18 August.

Ever since Solarstone‘s set in Sydney eighteen months ago was cut short after just one hour, I have been madly keen to see him again. And in the time since, he has released Pure and launched his Pure Trance project, to bring his brand of real trance to the world. So I was delighted that we were able to catch Pure Trance Miami.

Club Souz was probably not the best choice of venue. Nicely intimate, but the bar was overpriced and the sound system left a lot to be desired. Reverberating bass, muddy middles and insufficient treble – a combination that is poorly suited to trance. The ventilation was poor and there was effectively no seating unless you paid for VIP.

We arrived part way through Kristina Sky‘s set. Hers is not a name I’d come across before, but I’d definitely be happy to see her again. A very good choice of warm-up for the main act, Solarstone.

For nearly two hours we were treated to some pure trance magic. The set comprised mostly his own tunes (productions or remixes): Unity (Solarstone’s Pure Remix), Voyager, Jump The Next Train, Falcons, Fireisland, The Spell, Seven Cities, Jewel, scattered with a few great tracks that fit the Pure style – Sail On The Waves, Southern Sun (Orkidea’s tribute remix), We Can’t Fly, Perpetual Motion.

Despite the poor sound, I was loving it and didn’t want it to end, but eventually it did and Giuseppe Ottaviani took over. Of course, we’d seen Giuseppe only three days earlier – at Global Connection at Dream. I was interested to see how he might adapt his set to only very slightly different circumstances. This time around Amba Shepherd was not there to sing live vocals on Lost For Words, so instead of opening with it, he used it to close out his set. Before that we were treated to a great set that started similarly to Tuesday night, but evolved in a different direction. I preferred Tuesday night’s set, but I think that is probably more down to the better sound at Dream than to do with the set itself.

Around half past three, John 00 Fleming came to the DJ console and proceeded to deliver a banging set of driving trance and psy-trance. I’m not very familiar with the tunes he plays, so I can’t ID any of the tracks, but while I was pretty weary by now and half-expecting that my legs would give up on me at any moment, I was really enjoying myself and in the end it was hard to pull ourselves away.

I’d love to have another chance to experience Pure Trance, Solarstone-style. With luck, maybe he’ll bring it to Australia sometime soon? I couldn’t recommend it more highly!

Off to Sydney’s Metro Theatre for our New Year helping of trance.  A packed bill, with four international DJs, plus the usual helping of Sydney’s locals.  This was the meat in our NYE sandwich, with visits to the Nos for BBQ fun and recovery nonsense either side.  So we arrived at the Metro around 10:30 pm, in time for the start of First State’s set.

The first thing I noticed was that the sound in the main room was even worse than usual.  It’s a common viewpoint that the sound in the Metro is pretty rubbish.  Everyone agrees and if it wasn’t for the lack of alternative venues of the same size, I suspect it wouldn’t be booked so often.  The only comparable venue, the Hi-Fi (formerly the Forum) has a 2:00 am curfew, making it far from ideal for trance (or any other kind of dance) parties.  This time, in addition to the muddiness we are used to on the floor (it’s usually much better if you move to the back, by the sound desk), there was a nasty vibration coming from the bass speaker on the right of the stage.

But it was actually the music that First State played that prompted us to move into the bar to listen to Big J and Dejan play a set full of classics (Carte Blanche, As The Rush Comes, Blue Fear).  All I can really say about First State is that it didn’t sound like trance to my ears and every tune sounded much like the last.  I hadn’t come with any expectations about First State, so I can’t really say that I was disappointed, but I did enjoy dancing in the bar with the other refugees from the main room.

Back into the main room for midnight and Arnej.  Again, I didn’t really know what to expect, but Arnej delighted us.  Dark Coldharbour-style trance that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in a Markus Schulz set, reminding me of twelve months earlier in the same venue with the Unicorn Slayer himself.  The sound was still pretty bad, but we stayed close to the sound desk to make the best of it.  It’s also worth saying that we were impressed by the lights and lasers that accompanied the tunes.  There’s no doubt that lasers and trance music make a particularly good combination.

When Arnej wrapped up at 1:30 am, we were expecting to see Eddie Halliwell, but instead it was Nick Arbor and someone else I didn’t recognise who took over behind the decks.  It seems Eddie must have been delayed and he didn’t start until about 2:15.  And what a let-down he was.  None of the mixing pyrotechnics for which he is so well known and not even much by way of engagement with the audience.  And even allowing for the muddy mid-ranges and distorting bass, there was obviously something missing from his set – melodies or any recognisable tunes.  So for a second time in the night, we left to find out what was going on in the bar area.  And again there were many refugees from the main arena, dancing to more familiar trance tunes.

We moved back to the main room and, at around 3:30 am, Eddie Halliwell finished off his set and John 00 Fleming took the stage.  The perfect DJ to close off a night like this, it’s been about two and a half years since we’d last seen Fleming in Sydney, as his usual August visits co-incide with our trips to London.  So I was really looking forward to hearing what he had in store for us.  And there’s no doubt it was a great set. But the sound problems continued to spoil the night.  When the DJ is playing the kind of bass lines that J00F specialises in, you really don’t wanted distorted bass.  For long periods the sound desk seemed to avoid the distortion by turning down the volume and this didn’t help matters either.  That said, I did enjoy the two hour set that J00F played and the game of chase that Chico played in order to get his photo taken with his hero at the end was an amusing little side note.  Thanks for the lift back to the Nos, Chico and Maribel!

Overall, I did enjoy the night, but not as much as I would have without the sound problems.  And I was sufficiently disappointed by Eddie Halliwell to say that I won’t bother to go out of my way to see him in future.  Another one to put on the list of “used to be greats”.