Trance Around My Blog #11: Above & Beyond @ Zouk, 9 Feb

FINALLY!  The day came.  Put on my blue Anjunatee, and arrived just after midnight. R signed me in. The place was PACKED. As in slow-moving human traffic jams EVERYWHERE.

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And here I thought people would be too busy gambling or visiting to bother. Boy was I wrong. Could tell it would the most attended gig of theirs since the boys’ first visit in 2003.  Tony Tay worked the decks, and some were already shuffling, but most of us like me were waiting for the main event. Took a couple of photos of the atmosphere with my new N75, which I had specially brought for the occasion, but they didn’t turn out like I thought. Like this:    

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The decks were handed over around 0130, maybe a little earlier; I forgot.  Tony as usual, and surprise, surprise – Paavo, back for his second visit to SG.  But it would have been nice to see Jono this time too.  Just into the first few bars of “Intro” and the crowd was already wild and ready to P-A-R-T-Y. R and his group hung back a bit, cos the floor was really very very crowded.

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But the music was too fine to hold us back. Eventually we managed to snake our way close to the decks, about 5 rows from the front. But 10 minutes later R left cos he had to go fulfill a veritable CNY tradition ;-). I soon lost sight of his groupies but no matter – the music was alive baby.  First time I’m in Zouk after the smoking ban, and what a relief!  No need to breathe fumes while trying to maintain a beat on the floor.

The set started out strong, with the Nitrous Oxide remix of Signalrunners’ “Electric Sheep” kicking me into recognition. Then a couple of other tunes later, they dropped Wippenberg’s down-tempo rework of “Home”, which I felt was a little unusual given the fact that you were trying to work the crowd, not lull them.  Anyway.  Then the Buzztalk Mix of “Buzz”, a newer track from their Tranquility Base alias, which many in the crowd didn’t get but it was a real treat to hear it played live, especially Buzz Aldrin’s comm chatter sequence.  Holy shit.  The crowd preferred more familiar stuff like First State’s “Falling”, and they sang along to Anita Kelsey’s vocals.

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Soon a bevy of the A&B classics came on, starting with the original mix of “Can’t Sleep”, segueing into what I like to call the City Sequence – Paul van Dyk’s “New York City”, followed by the Smith & Pledger remix of Luminary’s “Amsterdam”, another personal favourite.  Many may not have been aware of the new OceanLab single “Breaking Ties”, in its current Above & Beyond’s Analog Haven Mix form, so there were fewer enthusiastic responses than, say, if the boys had chosen to drop “Sky Falls Down” or “Beautiful Together”.  But they did oblige with another popular OceanLab tune right at the end – which I’ll mention at the end of this entry.

Like they did on their Anjunabeach mix on TATW #178, “Ties” segued into Nitrous Oxide’s “Waves”, a huge uplifter which got temperatures skyrocketing.  By this time the floor was standing room only, and you shuffled at your neighbour’s peril.

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I spotted Y and worked my way up to him, only to be greeted by the news that he’d been out of the trance scene for a year now. Oh well.  In any case, it was good to meet up with the familiar faces. Another difference I noticed was the CO2 blast was very strong this time – it knocked my glasses off the first time and throughout the set, I had to anticipate when a particularly strong crescendo would elicit the purge so I could hold on to my glasses.  Amazing but true!

After the other new Tranquility Base tune, “Oceanic”, which is a personal favourite, on came another classic in the boys’ stable of superstar remixes: Ayumi Hamasaki’s “M”.  It was a blessing that they played their Typhoon Dub cos the Japanese vocals don’t do a lot for me.  On the other hand, it took me quite a while to recognise their record under the Unkle Petter alias, “So Many Faces”. Great guitar work on that. Next came the obligatory Smith & Pledger track, and this time it was “Northern Lights” rather than “Connected” or “White”, followed by what I think was Boom Jinx’s “Eternal Reminiscences”, although I can’t say for sure. There were a couple of tracks that slipped my memory, and going back and listening to my collection didn’t stimulate recollection but nearly prompted confusion in some cases.

But what remains consistent in all Above & Beyond gigs in Singapore is that they will play their Nitromethane track “Religion”.  It was good to hear it again – who cares what Madonna thinks? By this time the crowd were ecstatic, and all pumped up for the massive massive “Alone Tonight”. 

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Richard Bedford’s vocals were pretty much drowned out by the singing along of the crowd.The boys kept up the tempo by following up with another monster, “Far From In Love”, but little did we know that despite it being only 0430 or thereabouts, they were preparing to call it a night and to hand things over back to Tony Tay.

So they played their final track – “Satellite”.  No encore whatsoever. I managed to work my way to the exit to the smoking area just as they were preparing to leave by the private door.  Shook hands with Tony, who seemed a little dazed, but Paavo was all smiles as usual and very graciously obliged fans with photos – including me.  Here it is – thank goodness my phone camera came through for me this time:

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So here’s the tracklist as I remember: 

1. Signalrunners “Electric Sheep” [Nitrous Oxide Remix]
2. Above & Beyond “Home” [Wippenberg Remix]
3. Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base “Buzz” [Buzztalk Mix]
4. First State Ft. Anita Kelsey “Falling” [Extended Mix?]
5. Above & Beyond “Can’t Sleep”
6. Paul van Dyk “New York City”
7. Luminary “Amsterdam” [Smith & Pledger Remix]
8. OceanLab “Breaking Ties” [Above & Beyond’s Analog Haven Mix]
9. Nitrous Oxide “Waves”
10. Above & Beyond pres. Tranquility Base “Oceanic” [Original Mix]
11. Ayumi Hamasaki – M (Above & Beyond Typhoon Dub)
12. Above & Beyond pres. Unkle Petter “So Many Faces”
13. Smith & Pledger “Northern Lights”
14. Boom Jinx “Eternal Reminiscence” [ID Remix]
15. Nitromethane “Religion”
16. Above & Beyond “Alone Tonight”
17. Above & Beyond “Far From In Love”
18. OceanLab “Satellite”

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One Response to “Trance Around My Blog #11: Above & Beyond @ Zouk, 9 Feb”

  1. Theoretician Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Theoretician!!

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