Archives for posts with tag: Signum

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 lock-out and curfew laws have led to many changes in Sydney’s nightlife and clubbing scene since they were introduced about 18 months ago as a response to two very sad deaths, neither of which were connected in anyway to the after-midnight culture of the city, happening as they did between 9 and 10pm. Nightclubs in the city and especially Kings Cross have been closing their doors for good, and events that would normally have run till 5 or 6am have been finishing at 3 o’clock.

Yes, there has been a reduction in the incidence of violence and emergency treatments at the local hospital – but what gets less publicity is that this reduction is not as great as the reduction in the numbers of people out late enjoying themselves. Another consequence of the nanny state clampdown is that promoters have been forced to look outside the city for suitable venues to put on the kind of events that their customers want. This has led to rising complaints in Newtown, for example – not exactly an area noted for families and residents unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a lot of social activity on their doorsteps.

And so we find that the Digital Therapy team has been looking for a good venue to accommodate their successful nights of “house, progressive and trance”. And while it appeared that they had found a great location for their latest party, headlined by Signum, in fact there were one or two problems which showed exactly why the so-called CBD Entertainment Precinct is the right place for the city’s nightlife to take place and why shortsighted and killjoy knee-jerk reactions are the wrong approach to solving the issues they were supposed to address.

Rules designed by politicians and police, with no understanding whatsoever of the nightlife culture, do nothing to address the ingrained problems of the abuse of alcohol (particularly when combined with steroids) that are not restricted to the hours between 1.30 and 5am. They just result in the loss of vitality of the city’s nightlife and great events like this weekend’s Digital Therapy being cruelly shut down early, just as everyone present was having such a great time.

Yes, maybe the noise created was disturbing residents nearby (although there certainly aren’t any residential buildings on the street concerned), but if clubbers weren’t forced out of the centre of Sydney in the first place, no residents would have needed to be disturbed at all.

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So, having got that off my chest, let’s talk about the party! The venue is a photographic studio by day and effectively no more than a warehouse, on a street full of light industrial buildings. That gave the event a great underground vibe. However, it transpired that smoking had to be allowed inside (perhaps this was an indication that noise might in fact be an issue?), although the high vaulted ceilings meant that it never got too smokey. The sound quality was a bit patchy, but that’s par for the course in a warehouse and dancing closer to the speakers removed much of the muddiness apparent further back.

There was a real sense of fun and excitement across the venue, with exactly the kind of friendly crowd for which Digital Therapy has become known. We arrived shortly before Jezza started playing and quickly found a suitable place to leave our drinks – one positive of the warehouse venue was the lack of licence, so it was bring-your-own drinks. The venue was filling steadily and we were meeting various friends we hadn’t seen for seemingly ages.

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Next up was Big J, who played a set heavily influenced by the Coldharbour label sound. It was great to hear tracks like Markus Schulz – Without You Near, Sander van Doorn feat. Carole Lee – Love Is Darkness, Tiësto feat, Jes – Everything (Cosmic Gate Remix) and the tune that got the whole place buzzing, Armin van Buuren vs. Gabriel & Dresden – Zocalo. This set had a different feel from Big J’s normal style and, indeed, from a lot of what you hear these days. So it was really refreshing and just the right way to warm up for the night’s main act.

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As it happens, this was the third time in just over four months that we’d had the pleasure of dancing to a set by Signum. His set to close the classics stage at Luminosity Beach Festival at the end of June had been one of the highlights of the whole event and his hour at Wax Format in London in July had been the set of the night as far as I was concerned. No wonder I’d been really looking forward to hearing him work his magic over three hours in an underground setting like this.

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Sure enough, we were treated to some wonderful trance as he dropped classics like Basic Dawn – Pure Thrust (Nu NRG Remix), Push – The Legacy, Randy Katana – In Silence, Rank 1 – Awakening, Signum – What Ya Got For Me, Marco V – Godd, Tiësto – Flight 643, John O’Callaghan – Find Yourself and Matt Darey feat. Kate Louise Smith – See The Sun (Dan Stone Rework). This really was fantastic stuff and the place was really going off.

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But as I paid a visit to the gents, I became aware of the very bad news that the party had been issued with an official noise abatement notice by the police and had to close down. So when I got back to the dancefloor, there was only time for one more tune, Roger Shah & Signum – Healesville Sanctuary before everyone was kicked out onto the street in a daze and we found our way home, all too early, via Uber and the nightbus.

I think it’s fair to say that everyone present had a great time, but there’s no denying that having Signum’s set cut short by an hour and missing out on the closing act, Elucidus, altogether, was a massive downer, especially for what was a fairly expensive event, at $50. I’m not really blaming Digital Therapy as it wasn’t their fault – but I wonder if the venue hasn’t had similar problems before? Worst of all, it leaves me wondering whether there is any solution to the problems caused by the lockout/curfew law.

For all that, it was another great night until the early finish and we must hope that Digital Therapy manages to find another venue to bring us more great nights in 2016.

Thanks to Zed Hudz for the photos!

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While Australia has been enjoying such a rich winter of trance (Future Sound Of Egypt 400, Menno de Jong’s extended set and Pure Trance among the events we’re upset at missing), the pickings in London have been much slimmer. In fact only two events have caught our ears and got us putting on our dancing shoes since we arrived back after our travels in the Netherlands, Ibiza and Turkey. The first of these was Wax Format presents Tidy vs. Nukleuz in London: Vinyl Only at Fire in Vauxhall and what a great night it turned out to be!

We arrived just as Signum started his set and worked our way towards the front of a packed and extremely hot dancefloor. There was more space to dance near the right, but it was much hotter there, so we ended up moving into the centre, where it was heaving, but due to the positioning of the air-conditioning, a little less like the inside of a furnace! It’s easy to see how the nightclub got its name! Signum had played a wonderful classics set at Luminosity and he played some more great classics tonight, while perhaps not reaching the brilliant level of his closing festival set.

Dropping classics like DJ Tiësto – Suburban Train, Tiësto – Just Be, Randy Katana – In Silence and Push – Universal Nation, it was a wonderful set and I would have loved him to play much longer, but the line-up was so long that he only had an hour. I often feel that an event has too many DJs and it would be better to have half as many DJs playing for twice as long. But the great trance continued with the next DJ, Mario Piu, who also dropped some old school DJ Tiësto – Flight 643.

We moved to the other room to catch Agnelli & Nelson, only to discover that they weren’t there (it later transpired that they had missed their flight, although the wisdom of their accepting bookings for a festival in Northern Ireland and a club night in London on the same date has to be questioned). Filling the gap was Sam Mitcham, the Driftwood promoter who we’d seen recently in Ibiza. Sam played a fantastic set – so good that I really wasn’t so concerned to miss A&N in the end, especially when he dropped Agnelli & Nelson – El Niño, although the highlight for me was Lost Tribe – Gamemaster.

I really liked the club, although the main room was too hot for me at times. Overall it was a really good night, with enough trance to keep me going till it was time to head home, and lots of hard trance and hard house for those who are into those genres.

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The other event we attended was the Friendz and Trance Sanctuary boat party and what a lovely day this was! It’s not been the warmest London summer, by any stretch, but on this day the sun was out and it was pleasantly warm. Although this was only the third time we’ve been lucky enough to experience Trance Sanctuary, it feels like an old friend and it’s definitely somewhere where we get to meet lots of our friends and always make some new ones too.

After boarding, we soon located the Trance Sanctuary deck, where Jon Cockle was playing a great opening set. It’s easy to see why John 00 Fleming rates him so highly as he seems to have a knack for playing some great tunes at the right pace for the stage of the evening/night. Tristan C was up next with some more mainstream trance tracks that went down well with the crowd. We went upstairs to check out Messy A – a good friend of ours from before he started DJ-ing, and he had the dance floor buzzing with his tunes and his pirate outfit! But we wandered back down to catch Mark Landragin, who played a great set before the headliner took over.

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Sneijder is one of my favourite DJs, but I’ve often managed to miss him due to clashes with other events or DJs. We’d missed his set at Luminosity because we were dancing to Paul van Dyk. So I was really looking forward to hearing him now and he did not disappoint. He opened with Andain – What It’s Like (Sneijder Remix) and also dropped great tunes like Aly & Fila with Ferry Tayle – Nubia, Veracocha – Carte Blanche (Sneijder Remix), Plumb – Need You Now (How Many Times) (Bryan Kearney Remix), Delerium – Silence (Future Antics Remix), Orkidea – Purity (Sneijder Remix) and John O’Callaghan – Stresstest (John Askew Remix). What a fantastic set this was, and what a great vibe it created on the lower deck!

My only concern was how hot it was and that unless we were very close to the speakers the sound was very muddy. Overall, though, it was another great Trance Sanctuary night and the Thames does provide a great backdrop to the music. I just wish I could go to these events more often!

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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.

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