Some music fans pine for the days of the 1960’s or the blues era or of the big band sound of the 1940’s. I readily put my hand up feeling that way at times. Yet a genre that’s been steadily growing and captivating audiences around the world is Electronic Dance Music (EDM) and I count myself blessed to be alive and to be able to witness this exciting development.
The live presentation of this music isn’t “played” on traditional instruments such as guitar or bass or blown through brass or woodwind. The modern day tablature of EDM is how a DJ presses performance pads, moves digital vinyl systems or spins jog wheels on a “controller” which is linked to a computer with relevant software and associated audio and visual equipment. It’s a revolutionary form of music that’s inspiring fans from around the world to become involved in. Coupled with the internet and it’s associated social media and music streaming platforms, EDM continues to grow and appeal to millions of fans around the world.
One such group which I consider to be the leaders in this field, is Above & Beyond. They consist of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki. They have their own weekly podcast known as Group Therapy which can be heard on a multitude of streaming platforms and a live feed on Facebook. They have a label entitled Anjunabeats which showcases some very talented music creators and performers. Vocalists such as Justine Suissa, Zoë Johnston and Alex Vargas have brought some incredible performances to the Anjuna stable.
The fun part is where can one experience Above &/ Beyond? so the streaming bit is easy enough, so is the weekly podcasts. It’s on the road where one really witnesses the power, skill, genuine soul and love that is projected at an Above & Beyond live performance.
Last year we were, oh so very fortunate to see Above & Beyond play the Sydney Opera House and their amazing acoustic versions of their EDM tunes simply known as Acoustic II. It was a sublime experience to hear the music stripped down to the bare basics to reveal a different audio insight into typical dancefloor music.
Above & Beyond play the large festival circuit with huge crowds and always get a massive, positive response, yet I wanted to see them in a classic nite club environment. This time I saw Above & Beyond perform at the Hakkasan dance club venue at the MGM Grand located in the “entertainment capitol of the world” that is Las Vegas. The Hakkasan is an interesting room with it’s combination of VIP tables, bar / socializing areas and tight dance floor that make it an intense, yet pleasurable personal experience.
The April 9th Hakkasan show featured two thirds of Above & Beyond with Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki at the decks. It was a fantastic set put on by the pair which ran for close to 2 hours. Plenty of light and shade, plenty of interesting graphics and positive slogans.
Correct me if I’m wrong but my understanding from watching a You Tube interview with Paavo Siljamäki, it was disclosed that he had written a program code that would match a graphics program with the Beats Per Minute (BPM) track that would be playing on one of their decks during a live performance. It worked so well that Siljamäki got in contact with Pioneer (the controlling decks that A&B use) and made suggestions to the design technicians regarding graphics definitions and adjustments were made. They were on full display at the Hakkasan set. The other bonus was the in-house Hakkasan dancers who were dressed in some interesting costumes. For a second I could have sworn I felt like I was on the set of Blade Runner with what I was witnessing via the dancers. It was a subtle but nice touch to the Above & Beyond set.
The age group of the crowd was typically 20-30’s and finding myself around the same age area as Tony McGuinness, it was an interesting experience. This kind of music is ageless in my honest opinion. I’ve seen a senior “push the button” at one of Above & Beyond’s show.
We are told by business and human resource sector boffins that today’s society is a complex amalgam of all different age groups and different sociological upbringings which do provide challenges with regards to interactions in the work and social environment. In this context, I felt totally at home at the Above & Beyond gig, although some loudmouth bloke yelled at me “lost cougar” which made me laugh, shake my head and think who needs to be defined by age at an A&B set?. The last time I checked I didn’t posses paws or whiskers, maybe in the next lifetime perhaps. Oh, and by the way as I was bumping to “Shout” (the Grum remix) of the Tear for Fears classic I reminded myself that I actually saw them play live in Melbourne in 1985 during their “Songs From The Big Chair” tour. Life takes you to some interesting places and proves I still have a passion for music.
Much of the music that was actually spun on the night heavily featured material taken from the new Anjunabeats Volume 13 release. 1001 is fast becoming an A&B classic that launched the crowd into a cool groove. The Oceanlab classic On A Good Day reworked by Ilan Bluestone just flew, Don’t Take It Away from Soundprank rip-roared, Higher Love by Seven Lions & Jason Ross feat. Paul Meany tore the roof off. Then there were the utter classic like Blue Sky Action (King for a Day) which I’m sure was the most popular of the night. That note hold and then POW! into the breaking climax just erupted the floor. My poor feet copped a nasty heel spike during it, but I lived to survive and get my second wind and watched the closing set.
So if you wish to have a similar uplifting, unforgettable Above and Beyond experience in a Las Vegas niteclub environment,then book now for their July 8, 2017 show at Omnia at Caesars Palace. From personal experience, we consider Omnia to be the finest techno nite-club in the world and if Above and Beyond are on the decks, it’s just as exciting and musically historic as say seeing The Who or Hendrix at the former London based Marquee Club at their peak. Above and Beyond are the true masters of EDM / Progressive Trance music in 2017. Go tell this to a stranger.