Friday, January 23, 2004

All right, here's my lengthy review of the PvD gig yesterday. For those of you who are wondering just how hip and happening Singapore could possibly be, you can check out these photos, taken by my German friend who is, sadly, going back to Germany this coming Tuesday. Though I've only known him since December 2003, I'll certainly miss his presence in the Singapore clubbing scene. He's got a refreshingly un-German and, naturally, un-Singaporean outlook on life, and also surprised me the first time we met by the nature of our conversation. If I recall correctly, we were talking about girls, guys, homosexuality, dirty deeds and the like. It's not something I usually talk about on a first meeting, I'll just have you know. I don't know if I'll get to see him again before he leaves, but I certainly do hope I'll get to see him again, regardless of where either of us are! All the best to you, dude! As I told you last night (after some encouragement from your side, no doubt) - you'll always have my love and everyone will always be second compared to you! Ha ha!

Anyway, PvD. Great stuff. My friend, who was covering the event for a local web site, gave me the second of her free tickets. Merci beaucoup, cherie. I was originally only going to decide later in the evening if I would go because I was still feeling bad from the effects of the cold on the day itself.

So. Can you beat that? Going to see Paul van Dyk without having to cough up a single cent? I'm probably the kind of clubber Centro was trying to avoid enjoying this event that night because my friend and I weren't going to drink any alcohol - her, because she just doesn't and I, because I wanted to keep my options open in the event I needed to take medicine. We didn't even want to drink water after taking a look at the ji-normously long toilet queues. So, even though we thought we needed to use the ladies just after we came in, we decided to dance the urge away. And guess what? It worked! Heh.

We managed to enter the Powerhouse around 12.15 am. Yukun (Singapore's No. 1 Trance DJ, for those in the know) was still on the decks then, and by all accounts, I heard that he had a really banging set so props to you, dude! As PvD came on 15 minutes after we came in, I didn't get much of a chance to listen to YK, so oh well. The people doing the lights and graphics did a pretty nice job once the great man himself was set to come on. I especially liked the screen which proclaimed "PVD - 5 mins more!"

I didn't really notice when PvD came on, which is a credit to YK's track-dropping and mixing right there and then. But when PvD started dropping the tunes, then whoa, mama! If I recall correctly, he started off a bit slowly before really churning it up with big tunes and big, hard, banging beats. As I said yesterday, the acoustics weren't great, although to be fair, in a place with such a high roof, there was no real way for the acoustics to be as good as they would have been in a normal club area, because of the incredible amount of reverberation. As a result, we only really heard the bass, and couldn't hear much of the melody. One of the earlier tunes that he dropped was PvD vs. Second Son - Crush off his Reflections album. It's an amazing tune that starts off rather lightly, before kicking in with a crushing female vocal going, "I know you want me", and then, the thumping beat starts before slowing down, and then building up ago with an incredibly atmospheric fade-in. The tension builds up to such a height and just when you think you can't take it anymore, "I know you want me" kicks in once again, unleashing all the energy that's been building up through that one song alone.

He also played a new tune which people have spotted but haven't quite been able to identify. Our guess is that it's his new production and that hopefully, we'll find out the title real soon. It's a really nice track and I'm a little astonished that I recognised it that night given that I had only heard it once, and that was for two minutes or so. But then again, my friends have commented on my track recognition skills, which I do admit can be pretty damn good at times.

Oh yes, Modulation's Spirits (Slusnik Luna remix) made an appearance too. It's a tune which is nice and light in some areas, before the banging weng-weng-weng-weng sound kicks in as it makes its transition towards hard and thumping once again. The track reminds me of the sea in a way, but a sea that's moving at a faster speed than the normal relaxing waves you hear. This tune is relaxing for the most part and I can imagine myself moving in sync with someone else, just melding into him when this tune comes on.

Other tunes that were played during that period included For An Angel (YES!!!), Agnelli & Nelson's Holding On To Nothing (which I sang along to). It was very danceable, so no complaints from me there. There was a time when he just started dropping big tunes, which was unusual for him, but which we thoroughly enjoyed. In a period of ten minutes, Nothing But You (an awesome song which still remains one of my favourites ever since he played it in December 2002. I mean, great beats, soaring vocals, excellent remixing - pure Van Dyk!), Wolfsheim's Wondervoll (a new tune which caught my attention) and As The Rush Comes (overplayed, and quite frankly, I would have thought he had moved on from this track by now, but still - such an incredibly fun track to dance and sing to whenever it's on. Great vocals with almost pleading female vocals exhorting you to "Embrace me, surround me / As the rush comes" and a mind-blowing breakdown.). A guy friend of mine tried to dance with me during the last track but sorry, dude. Nothing comes between me and the music. Not when it's this fantastic.

Back to Wondervoll. Why did this track catch my attention? Well, besides the fact that it's a good tune overall, it had male vocals, something which contrasted beautifully with the haunting female vocals of Nothing But You. Wondervoll was also mostly in German, so that was another differentiating factor from a normal trance tune these days (hey, it's almost impossible to hear the female lyrics in Nothing But You as Jan Johnston's voice is so high-pitched). Good tune which kept the high energy level up.

There was another track played which was just wicked. We both recognised it but I couldn't identify it despite having heard it before. The lyrics went "Can't fight it / Can't hide it" and then "You're addicted to drugs". (On Jan 24th - I finally found out the name of the tune! It's Oscar G's Dark Beat, a really dirty tribal track with dark percussions. Simply brilliant. And yes, the lyric is really "I'm addicted to drums" not drugs, but then, we were at a rave after all...)

My friend and I were just going crazy during that first hour and a half, to the point that people around us were asking us to slow down lest we tire too early. Dudes, there's only one thing I can say: I never ever tire too early when it comes to clubbing. Even when I'm sick, I'm one of the most energetic dancers around.

At around 2 am, I made my way to the front to meet my German friend, who knows PvD personally (!!!) and helped me get my CD inlay signed by God (as dubbed by Mixmag) himself. During this period, my girlfriend and my guy friend decided to vanish to "go outside for a bit" as they so quaintly put it. I felt a little relieved as I was just getting a bit uncomfortable with the intensity of what was going on right next to me, and determinedly ignoring it wasn't quite working. In any case, I waited close to 45 minutes for my inlay to be returned to me, but man oh man, was it worth it! I'm not an autograph groupie usually (if I can get it, fine, if not, I'll live without it) but PvD is one of my favourite producers and DJs ever.

So, during that 45 minutes, I heard Time Of Our Lives (again off his latest album. A rather chilled, poppy piece, considering it's Van Dyk's work, but wicked chorus - "Oh this is the time / Of our lives." It would make a good soundtrack to an upbeat carpe diem kind of day, you know what I mean?) and a remix of New Order's Blue Monday. At first, I couldn't work out what the latter track was but just knew it sounded so familiar, and when "how does it feel / to treat me like you do" came on, I knew it instantly. I had been wondering about what work PvD had done with New Order, and yesterday's set (or more accurately, today's set) answered that question.

After getting my inlay back, I didn't want to linger around the corner anymore waiting for my two delinquent friends to return, especially since I was all alone (my German friend and his pretty girlfriend had left to go elsewhere) and there were weirder and weirder people popping up near me. I decided to brave the crowds and go towards the middle to look for my friends, managing to find some, but not the person I was looking for. In the end, I stayed near the founders of Trance Republic, all nice, humble, great people, and was dancing the night away. I can't remember what tunes he dropped at this point, but I had decided to dance like mad and not worry about my friends (my friend's phone was in my possession so she couldn't contact me. In my defence, I did go out to look for them and walked around the lounge areas and was keeping an eye out for them throughout so I did the best I could, given the circumstances. Oh yes, that reminds me. Rank 1's Breathing came on while I was looking for my friends. Uplifting, euphoric tune with sexy, enticing vocals.). My TR friend gave me a glowstick, which was nice of him, and it was blue, my favourite colour, so double yay!

He re-played Time Of Our Lives and towards the end of his set, played Felix Da Housecat's Silver Screen (Shower Scene), something I hadn't heard since London. A good strong electroclash tune, but quite unusual coming from the Trancemeister. I moshed like mad during that piece nevertheless. I am a purist, but not so much that I'll let my prejudices get in the way of enjoying a good song. But then again, PvD had been playing a mixture of trance and electro-house for the whole night (as demonstrated by the dropping of Blue Monday).

Some people felt that his set had dropped in quality after a smashing first half, and then when it had dropped, it dropped majorly, and I'm inclined to agree with them, but still, I had a brilliant time. I met a lot of people there, got lots of hugs (as clubbers tend to be very high, alcohol-assisted or no), and danced a lot of calories off (much-needed after all the CNY binging).

The encore started off not too bad. He played For An Angel and for some strange reason which I have been unable to account for, I really did think he was going to play Underworld's Born Slippy (PvD remix), which would have been incredible to hear and an awesome way to end off the night. However, as I mentioned earlier, the encore ended rather abruptly, right in the middle of For An Angel. I've been informed that it's because the police put an end to the night, having already passed 4 am, which was the latest time Centro had been granted permission for. What a pity to just pull the plug on the man like that! It seemed like they were vacillating for a while, switching the lights on, then off, then on again, before switching the turntables off. Sigh. Though I like abrupt endings myself, the middle of that classic track where it was clearly not at the end of a build-up or a breakdown was just a little strange.

All in all, my verdict was that - this night was fantastic. I may have enjoyed myself more at the Zouk gig, but it remains to be said that this will still rank among my top DJ sets since my return to Singapore. If I had to give it a score, it'd be 8.0/10.

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