Global Gathering

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Long Marston Airfield, Stratford upon Avon
25th and 26th July

Everyone prays for good weather when they’re buying a ticket for a festival.  It can make the difference between a good weekend and a great weekend, especially if there’s camping involved and we’ve all had the experience of getting wet on the first day and then spending the rest of the weekend feeling damp and being unable to get properly dry. Nobody likes being moist all weekend.

This year’s Global was my tenth and will remain fixed in my memory as the hottest and sunniest to date. The weather was just glorious.

So was the music.

The outdoor stage was particularly good this year with outstanding performances from Jaguar SkillsChase and StatusAndy CAnnie Macand, of course, Prodigy who have never, in all the years I’ve been seeing them live, done anything less than be outstanding.  It’s a shame they didn’t have any new material to offer.

The Global Freight Depot was a huge hit last year and the extremely high standard set then was more than matched by outstanding performances from the likes of James ZabielaPedestrianToddla T and David Rodigan. I overheard people saying that it was too small; I disagree.  For me it was the perfect size and being in there was reminiscent of being in a small club with the all the intimacy and closeness to the action that that implies. 

The Radio 1 tent, which I seem to remember was the busiest overall last year, once again lived up to expectations. There were superb sets from MistajamGorgon CitySub FocusEric Prydz and Sasha & Nic Fanciulli as well as a masterly lesson in crowd-pleasing by Pete Tong & Eats Everything.

Alesso, in The Hangar on Saturday night, was simply amazing. I’ve rarely seen a crowd so energised and excited. It was a joy to behold.

 

The VIP area was once again transformed into a woodland oasis of fairy lights, tree houses, hot tubs and hour after hour of sublime music. After the madness and crowds of the main arenas it was such a relief sometimes to be able to go and spend some quality time there and just chill out and recharge the batteries. I spoke to one couple who had hardly left there all weekend and were completely satisfied. If the hot tubs are to become a regular feature it might be a good idea to have more of them as there were a lot of very disappointed people.

Many people I spoke to before, during and after the event were bemoaning the fact that there was less mainstream trance than in previous years and it’s true, there really was only the Godskitchen arena on Friday night to satisfy the moaners (or perhaps ‘purists’). But what an offering it was and, for me, was the undoubted highlight of the whole weekend.

Steve Arnold kicked things off at 5pm with one of the most intelligent warm up sets I think I’ve ever heard and he set the tone for the whole of the rest of the night. It was measured, extremely well thought out and it did exactly what any opening set should do and laid a solid foundation on which to build the rest of the night. Being able to pull off this level of both restraint and expectation is a skill which many DJs would do well to learn and which Mr Arnold excels at.  In his own words: “GlobalGathering delivered once again and showed why they’re one step ahead of the pack. The production alone this year was really something else, incredible. It was a pleasure to be asked to play on such a stage and I enjoyed every second of it!”

A hard act to follow, obviously, but Heatbeat and Solarstone were more than up to the challenge. Then cameJordan Suckley who, for my money, is one of the most exciting DJs around at present.  I’ve seen him over a dozen times in venues both small and huge and his sound fits them all perfectly. From standard trance beats to cutting edge psy-trance he blends everything beautifully and no-one is ever left disappointed.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing for yourself what he can do I urge you to check out the Essential Mix he did for Radio 1. You’ll find it on Soundcloud and I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

Cosmic GateAly & Fila and John O’Callaghan were all outstanding.  Less so, for me, were New World Punkz(alias Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten) both world class DJs in their own right they didn’t seem to gel very well on this occasion.  There was a certain flow lacking in their set which rather spoiled it for me and left me thinking they could have been so much better.

Final DJ of the night was Sam Mitcham who proved to have the perfect end to what had been a largely perfect night’s music.

As with the opening set, the closing set of any night is not an easy one to pull off and crucial decisions have to be made.  Should it be an absolute stormer, getting harder and harder as closing time approaches and leaving everyone in the room drained and sweating? Or should it help everyone to wind down and send them off home happy and satisfied, but still able to get there without the aid of a walking stick?

Sam managed to steer a middle course between these two with no effort whatsoever and it’s a testament to his growing confidence on the decks and improving skill at reading his audience that ensured no one left the arena without feeling their night had been perfectly topped off. As with Steve Arnold’s opening set, it was perfect. He had this to say: To be asked to close the Godskitchen tent at Global Gathering was a huge honour for me, especially being the first Festival I ever attended as a fresh faced clubber back in 06 and of course another one of my life goals ticked off. I have to say the level of production was incredible this year, but by far the biggest highlight for me was the crowd! Oh my good lord! GK you never fail to deliver on atmosphere but that night will live long with me as one of the best yet! Thank you so much!”

Review by Ian Russell

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