Archives for posts with tag: Richard Durand

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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Round two of our weekend down in Melbourne took place at the Festival Hall on Saturday evening. It’s been a few years since the Godskitchen brand last graced Australian shores. But it was returning in some style, with a line-up that certainly excited me, mostly for the opportunity to see Pure NRG Live, but all the DJs on the bill have delivered great sets in the past.

The Festival Hall in Melbourne is not an all-night venue, so the event was set to run from early evening to 1am. After the previous night’s fun with Neptune Project at Brown Alley (see below), we needed a late recovery brunch before heading to meet friends for pre-drinks and then onto Godskitchen. The first thing that struck us was the seemingly enormous and endless queue, but after exploring to check which gate we had to enter by, we discovered a much shorter queue, so we were inside pretty quickly and just in time for the start of Richard Durand‘s set.

Durand had also been part of Godskitchen when it last visited Australia in October 2011, but it was an extended set he played at the Gaelic Club in September 2010 that I remembered most fondly. However, I’d heard little about him in the intervening years and I suspected that he’d moved away from playing the kind of trance I love. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to hear what he plays these days, with no expectations from the set. Which was just as well, because I really didn’t like it at all. I found it to be lowest common denominator crowd-pleasing stuff, with EDM-style remixes and remakes of classics like Cassandra Fox – Touch Me and Energy 52 – Café del Mar, interspersed with tunes like The Prodigy – Smack My Bitch Up and John Legend – All Of Me (Richard Durand Remix). I thought the Legend tune was completely out of place at a dance event, but maybe that’s just me?


Next up was Giuseppe Ottaviani, one of my favourites, and a DJ more accustomed to playing late or closing sets than at 8pm. It certainly didn’t seem to put him off his stride, as he delivered a brilliant set that I really enjoyed dancing to. Dropping Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You (Giuseppe Ottaviani Remix) early on helped to set the scene for 60 blistering minutes of driving trance in his inimitable style. We also heard Giuseppe Ottaviani feat. Alana Aldea – Heal This Empty Heart, Solarstone – Shield Pt. I, Giuseppe Ottaviani – Liverpool, Andain – Beautiful Things mashed with Aly & Fila – Underwater and Giuseppe Ottaviani feat. Amba Shepherd – Lost For Words. The hour flew by and before we knew it, Giuseppe was taking the applause and handing over to the next DJ.

That next DJ was Jorn van Deynhoven. People who know me well will know that I often talk about van Deynhoven’s set at Nevermind in July 2012. That afternoon he played one of those sets that will live in your memory forever. Booked to play an extended three hour set, he refused to hand over and ended up playing nearly five and a half hours of incredible trance. We’ve seen him a few times since and while he has never lived up to his brilliance that day, we have often enjoyed his sets, most notably at the recent ASOT 700 party in Sydney (see blog entry below). On this occasion, however, I was less impressed and felt that the first half of his set was lacking in direction and leaning far too heavily towards a “big room” sound, which felt like a wrong step after the trance that Guiseppe Ottaviani had played and had gone down so well.


I didn’t enjoy Armin van Buuren – Together (ASOT 700 Anthem) (Jorn van Deynhoven Remix, Mark Sixma – Adagio For Strings (what a truly awful remake this is) or Armin van Buuren feat. Laura Jansen – Sound Of The Drums. But to be fair, the latter part of the set was much better, from the moment he dropped Jorn van Deynhoven – Headliner and followed up with Orkidea – Purity (Sneijder Remix), Commander Tom – Are Am Eye (John Askew Remix) and Faithless – Insomnia.


As far as I was concerned, the real attraction of the night was Pure NRG Live – the combination of Giuseppe Ottaviani and Solarstone. This is a new venture for them and it is so much more than simply playing back-to-back. Indeed they have rejected the ‘B2B’ label in favour of Giuseppe’s preferred term, ‘M2M’, or musician-to-musician. Giuseppe has always rejected the label of DJ, as his sets are based around him playing live keyboards and remixing and mashing up on-the-fly. This approach has been extended to Pure NRG, with Rich Mowatt (Solarstone) also playing keyboards – and rather than just taking turns to choose tunes and mix them, as in a typical B2B set, both musicians are often performing simultaneously .


The result is quite simply sensational as they mash up their own tunes and create magic with old tunes, giving them a new lease of life, as well as giving us their take on some more current tracks. Amongst the many great tunes they played, I noted Armin van Buuren presents Rising Star feat. Betsie Larkin – Safe Inside You, London Grammar – Strong and Queen – Radio Ga Ga (what a stunning sound they made with this!). The highlights for me were the mash-ups they played at the end of the set: Nu NRG vs. Aly & Fila vs. Solarstone – Dream Fireisland and Ferry Corsten vs. Above & Beyond feat. Zöe Johnston – Galaxia Good For Me. I was quite simply blown away by how good this set was.


It was always going to be difficult for Jordan Suckley to follow such an incredible set. But Suckley’s uplifting 140 style is well suited to such occasions. Unfortunately, I found it rather anti-climactic and a bit stop-start and I never really felt he got into his stride. I think this was probably just a personal reaction, as he played some great tunes: 4 Strings – Take Me Away, John O’Callaghan – One Special Particle and Will Atkinson – Numb The Pain among them. My heart was just yearning for more Pure NRG! I really enjoyed Jordan Suckley’s set the last time I saw him, at Oxford Art Factory, but on this occasion, I felt he let his undoubted skills with the mixer get a little bit in the way of the music.


The night was not yet complete, however, as the local DJ, Sensualise, brought the night to a close with masses of energy and a great mix of psy-trance and some classics. Liquid Soul – Have You Ever?, Armin van Buuren presents Rising Star feat. Betsie Larkin – Safe Inside You, Tiësto – Traffic, Coming Soon!!! – Become One (Interactive Noise Remix) and a mashup including Cosmic Gate – Fire Wire and Neelix – Expect What. It was a great way to end the night and rather than drift away, the crowd stayed on to hear the local star smash it out in style. I think we’ll hear more from this guy.

We were tired now after two nights of dancing and it was time to head back for the chill out and post-party debriefing while others got ready to head off to one of the two official after-parties. It had been a fantastic two nights of trance and we’d heard some of the best music you could hope for from Neptune Project and from Pure NRG. A final word about the production at Godskitchen, which was fantastic. Sound so loud that your hair vibrated at first, until the room filled up, combined with a great lights, visuals and laser show made a perfect setting for the great music, although it was the music of Pure NRG for which I will remember Godskitchen 2015.

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This was our last night in London before flying home to Sydney on Saturday evening. And after the amazing weekend in Amsterdam, we weren’t sure whether we really wanted to go out or not. But the chance to see friends from Sydney while they were on honeymoon and to say goodbye to London-based friends meant that it wasn’t too difficult to twist my rubber arm. So once we’d finished cleaning the flat at 11pm, we headed off to Elephant & Castle for what we thought would be a quick couple of hours and a relatively early night by our standards for a Friday.

Of course it turned into a much bigger night than that, thanks to the generosity of people who will remain nameless as far as this blog is concerned and while Ferry Corsten’s set was not as good as the one we’d heard him play in Ibiza, he was very good, dropping Binary Finary – 1998 and Armin van Buuren – Communication towards the end of his set. He closed with the original mix of System F – Out Of The Blue, which was an awesome way to finish.

We didn’t enjoy Richard Durand’s set so much, although we had enjoyed a nice chat with him earlier. So we headed away from the Box and towards the above-mentioned generosity … which inevitably ended in just two-hours sleep for me and a massive hangover to check-in to Heathrow. Schoolboy error, but we had fun.