Understandably I was somewhat excited at the prospect of a 4 hour set from such an artist at the peak of his craft, particularly as such extended international sets are a rarity in this city. Adding to my already eager anticipation was a supporting cast that resident trance enthusiasts would dream about, featuring Diggs & Morro, Liquid M and Stama, each of Altitude fame, along with another fast-rising local favourite Flipside. I could not think of a better or more appropriate local lineup for such an event, and full credit must be given to the GAS crew for recognising their talent and putting these guys on.
Determined to grab myself a good parking spot I made sure I got there as early as possible, making my way into the club just a shade after 10pm. The crowd was still in its infancy stages but was steadily building, while Flipside warmed them up nicely with a well structured set of uplifting and hard edged progressive trance. By the time he drew to the close of his set the club was beginning to fill out nicely, and it was time for Diggs & Morro to take over the reigns. This they did in style, with an opening sequence of tracks featuring ‘Freefall – Skydive’ and ‘Infusion – Legacy (JXL remix)’ the crowd was soon buzzing, and I personally couldn’t resist the urge to join the fray in the middle of the dance floor. Their set went from strength to strength, from its progressive openings building up to a crescendo of the melodic, uplifting style the duo are known for. Ending their set with ‘Moogwai – Viola (Armin Van Buuren remix)’ made certain of a rapturous ovation from the crowd upon completion.
The stage was perfectly set for Liquid M to perform their live show, and once again they put on a fantastic display. I really cannot say enough about these guys! The driving beats and energetic melodies these guys produce are enough to get even the most jaded of trance fans to their feet. On top of this their energy and enthusiasm up on stage is vastly contagious, often jumping up and down in tandom and waving their hands in the air it is almost impossible not to join in! This particular performance showcased a couple of their new tracks which sounded great, and their mixing between tracks has improved considerably since I last saw them, resulting in a perfectly flowing performance from start to finish. All this great music and the headline act hasn’t even started yet! But wait, I think I see him… The excitement quickly spread about the club as he emerged from behind the decks to a resounding cheer, but not before Liquid M had soaked up their fair share of applause as well!
Armin Van Buuren, the man we were essentially all there to see, was ready to take the now packed dance floor on a journey few will forget for quite some time. It took almost no time at all to raise the crowd’s hands’ to the air, progressively and expertly building the atmosphere through his intricately structured set, mixed together with the kind of delicate accuracy to make any aspiring dj or bedroom banger watch in awe. His set featured a vast array of the freshest new tracks from across Europe, as well as the occasional well selected crowd favourite, the kind of set that whether you are dancing or simply sitting back and taking it all in from the sidelines (as, due to unavoidable fatigue, I often found myself doing) that makes each minute that passes a joy to listen to, and breaks almost everyone in attendance out in a smile. Tracks such as James Holden – Nothing (93 Returning mix), GTR – Mistral, Push – Strange World, Solar Stone – Solarcoaster (Midway remix), Solar Stone – Seven Cities (Armin remix), along with an array of his own productions including ‘The Sound of Goodbye’, ‘Sunspot’ and ‘Yet Another Day’, stand out from the pack but I really could go on and on (with the help of a few trainspotters who were present). Armin (as usual) looked like he was having a great time behind the decks, despite reportedly feeling a bit under the weather. It is fairly evident that he loves playing in Sydney and let’s hope this means he will be back again soon! The one down side of his set was that it got a little too hard for my liking towards the end, and by 5am I would have enjoyed a little softer, melodic finish, but I guess you can’t have it all. There are quite a few who already consider his set to be the best they have ever heard live, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it will almost certainly be one of the highlights of the year.
Uplifting trance is becoming increasingly resurgent in Sydney and nights like this do a great deal to attract more and more people to it. Much thanks goes out to the people at GAS once again for continuing to support these special events and for promoting the sound that many are already hooked on.