Despite standing on the brittle straw remains of Victoria Park’s usually lush summer grass and facing a stage that wouldn’t look out of place in some field near Worthington farm, squinting my eyes slightly I couldn’t help but imagine myself in some massive Ibiza club sometime in the early part of this decade. The smell of sweat and the green hue of glow-sticks lit up a sea of ultraviolet paint-smeared clubbers in a scene synonymous with images and memories of the early trance scene. This was the scene tonight as Victoria Park played host to one of the all time great names in Dance music - DJ Tiesto.
I’ll not launch into too much history about Tiesto but suffice it to say he is still regarded by many as one of, if not the, best DJ’s in the world. Although personally I find describing anyone as ‘the best’ in music so dependent on personal taste to be a little extreme, one glance at his rather lengthy Wikipedia entry shows exactly why he stands out and - although in retrospect I am probably guilty of dismissing Tiesto’s latest albums as a little too “euro” for my tastes - I have to say I was incredibly excited at the prospect of a live performance. I’ll show my age a bit by admitting I have my own fond memories of dancing till dawn in Space during his residency.
Having been caught-out somewhere near the backstage bar when the first boom of bass echoed across the makeshift arena I grabbed my camera and legged it back towards the stage, negotiating the 25,000 fans as best I could. Upon launching into the photo-pit I was greeted by a scene I wasn’t expecting: Tiesto stood behind a 4ft light-desk on a stage no less that 7ft high… the immediate effect of which was that the biggest DJ in the world was only visible from the nose up! I exchanged a few glances with my bemused fellow photographers, shrugged and did the best I could so apologies to those of you wishing for a resolution capable of exposing every detail.
With that out of the way I headed back into the crowd to enjoy the set… and what a set it was! I can honestly say I haven’t danced this much for years. Tiesto has an incredible gift for predicting the mood of the crowd and tailoring the rises and falls in his set for maximum impact. It was a real privilege to be part of this balls-out, dance til we drop, experience with cigarettes and water being shared freely and, greatest of all, a sense that nobody was taking themselves too seriously… a major failing in the current dance scene, in my opinion.
The set consisted of new tunes and classics from throughout Tiesto’s extensive career, with one hell of an epileptic fit inducing lightshow throughout. At the peak of the show the stage promptly disappeared in a spectacular explosion of fireballs something that looked oddly like white ribbon... or possibly bog role (it was hard to tell). With a spectacular finale (ending on his well known remix of Adagio for Strings) Tiesto departed, leaving an exhausted crowd patting themselves on the back and gasping unsurely for more… and, yes, I even saw a few group hugs.
All in all it was one hell of a night and a welcome revisit of a music style I’d almost forgotten about. If you, as I, thought the trance scene was dead then think again: there is life in the old girl yet.
There are still a few dates left on the UK leg of Tiesto's Kaleidoscope World Tour, check em out here!
Review and Photography by James Hough
9/10 on the dance-o-meter