Live Music + Gig Reviews

southwestfour 2007 @ Clapham Common, London

25 August 2007

In the racing form book, Clapham Common would have been listed as good, good to soft in places. As southwestfour rolled in to town, the clouds rolled away and London basked in its first full day of sunshine for what seemed like a lifetime.

The compact site was one big party from one sun drenched end to the other, and the heat coming out of the Bedrock tent could have powered several small villages. The mood was good, the earth was pulsating to the crossbreed of beats from the three tents and the main stage and the drink was flowing freely. The fake sand in the centre of the park may even have misled some more inebriated punters to believe they were in Ibiza, such was the strength of the sun.

Early on the main stage was heaving to the solid breaks of the Plump DJs, then the warm summer grooves of the Shapeshifters, the only fully live’ act at an event where laptops rather than guitars were the de rigeur.

Pete Tong swears by laptops these days, but still knows how to push all the right buttons when there’s a big crowd in tow. Security soaked the grateful front rows with water – at least, that’s what we hoped it was – and Tong, though clearly suffering in the heat, rose to the occasion with a set including predictably huge numbers from Robyn (Every Heartbeat in his own remix with Dave Spoon) and Axwell.

Axwell it seems has claimed the mantle of the summer’s biggest dance tune, and the rapid piano fire that takes this track back to the early 1990s rang out in the Bedrock tent as part of the climax to Sander Kleinenberg‘s stint, the heaving crowd jumping as one.

Bedrock was also the place for John Digweed to work his magic, and with an hour and a half to fill he once again paced his build up to perfection, mixing with the customary seamless style that characterizes his Renaissance and Bedrock mixes, then climaxing with a mighty update of New Order‘s True Faith that managed to trump the many remixes this track had to endure in the 1990s.

Sasha, around the same time, was wooing legions of party animals on the main stage, the VIPs bouncing along stage left and a party atmosphere was well and truly established.

Meanwhile Judge Jules was rocking the HarderFaster arena, where breathing came more easily than the Bedrock tent. Yet the beats were faster, and were taken up by Ferry Corsten, who added a big breakdown or two for good measure, with an excellent light show to boot. No short change for the dancers in this tent!

Paul van Dyk‘s set was billed as an epic, and it proved to be thus – of Cecil B DeMille proportions. Opening with a lengthy DJ set comprising some of the biggest trance party anthems of the year, the world’s most popular DJ (TM) eventually morphed his show into a live affair, with backing dancers and vocalists. At three hours it was either overkill or perfection, depending on your point of view, and even Van Dyk struggled to maintain energy levels for that long. But kudos to the man for ambition, though – while it might have worked better as two distinct sets, one for DJing and one for live music, it capped an impressive event.

Shame about the pesky 9pm shutdown, of course – that’s when you really know you’re not in Ibiza…

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