Global Gathering 2011, Stratford-Upon-Avon
Global as it's affectionately known has become something of an institution in dance music circles although one that refuses to stand still as punters become increasingly reluctant to part with their hard earned cash.
Global as it's affectionately known has become something of an institution in dance music circles although one that refuses to stand still as punters become increasingly reluctant to part with their hard earned cash. With music not starting till 5pm it was a wise move avoiding the rush of fancy dress and lesser clad revellers who had descended on sleepy Stratford Upon Avon from early afternoon.
With Above & Beyond curating the Group Therapy arena there was ample opportunity to check out the cream of their seemingly unstoppable Anjunabeats label which saw sets from the returning Gabriel & Dresden and the underrated Super 8 & Tab who blasted away any lingering early evening blues with a blistering set of melodic trance.
Over on the Main Stage it was Steve Angello who whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a party style set which encompassed the chart friendly terrain of Adele & Coldplay remixes, classic anthems and his own productions. As 1/3 of the Swedish House Mafia it was virtually guaranteed that "One" and "Save The World" would make an appearance at some stage in proceedings and were duly delivered back to back with devastating effect.
After a rinse of dubstep and a smattering of party beats courtesy of Doorly it was the turn of Sasha to show why he remains one of the world's most revered DJs with a veritable masterclass in tech and progressive beats. The blissed out rework of "Innocence" by Nero which opened his set was a strange curveball but after nearly 2 hours of subtle peaks and troughs there were shouts and screams aplenty for what proved to be an elusive one more tune.
Festivals by their very nature always throw up timetable clashes and this was no exception. Above & Beyond won out over Underworld although there was time enough to witness the Essex veterans smash the Main tent to pieces with the shuddering opening salvo of live favourite "Rez/Cowgirl" and the timeless "Pearls Girl". Frontman Karl Hyde may have been unusually smartly dressed but his trademark dance moves and distinctive vocal were very much present and correct.
Whilst Above & Beyond are well known for their goose bump inducing sets their new Group Therapy show takes it to a whole known level. Using screens to project a blistering mix of visuals, concept statements and questions it's a show which draws the crowd in and removes the sense of crowd/audience divide. It may seem like a bold statement but the slogans make you think without ever falling into preach mode whilst the tunes retain every last drop of burning intensity.
"You've Got To Go" and "A Thing Called Love" were moments of unfettered beauty where the only appropriate reaction was to close your eyes and absorb the moment whilst "Sun & Moon" had the crowd singing the chorus back at deafening volume. The instrumental "Prelude" was another standout and old favourite "No One On Earth" received like a long lost friend.
It says something of their own material that even a blistering frenetic mash up of Daft Punk's "One More Time" paled by comparison. Hearing them drop tracks by the likes of Arty and Nitrous Oxide and to see the crowd's reaction was truly special in a set which they adored from start to finish.
After such euphoric highs Eric Prydz's "Epic" show was somewhat of a letdown, the muffled sound and muted atmosphere punctured fleetingly by a smattering of killer Pryda numbers and his own futuristic rework of Depeche Mode's seminal "Personal Jesus". The visual elements and holographics in particular were spectacular but after the considerable hype which surrounded the build up it was like turning up to the world's most expensive firework display and finding all of the super rockets had been stolen.
With the time fast approaching 2.45am it was left to Sander Van Doorn to finish off the night in style, reminding us how much we loved being part of the Zombie Nation. Global, I shall see you next year !