Good things come to those who wait. To Vancouver’s EDM fan base, finally the wait was over since it was first announced that Above & Beyond (A&B) would bring their Group Therapy tour to the grand ballroom of the Commodore nightclub and – as it was later revealed to the delight of many – the electric confines of the Celebrities nightclub. This two night extravaganza proved to be one of the city’s biggest trance weekends of the year.
On their Group Therapy tour, the trio of Jono Grant, Tony McGuiness and Paavo Siljamaki had made stops in huge EDM hubs like Australia, Miami and Los Angeles before embarking on a trip to the West Coast. For the two nights in Vancouver, Paavo and Jono took over the reigns on the turntables, while Tony McGuiness held down the fort at Anjunabeats in London. On the dates of June 15th and the 16th, it was time for Vancouver to undergo “Group Therapy.”
Friday June 15th, 2012: Celebrities Nightclub
We got our first taste of A&B’s magic on Friday night at Celebrities nightclub. Paavo and Jono got on stage shortly after 12:30am and rocked the intimate venue until 3am. The venue was completely filled up as one would expect for such a high profile show from Blueprint. Like any show at Celebrities, the smaller club size really helped elevate the feeling of unison and connectedness between fellow clubbers and DJ.
Paavo and Jono’s track selection at Celebrities included all the major hits from their album “Group Therapy” including vocal stunners such as “You Got To Go”, “Love Is Not Enough” and of course “Sun And Moon”. The show was nothing short of spectacular and was filled with tons of Anjunabeats club monsters. One personal favourite of mine was when they dropped “Bloom” by Norin & Rad, a melodic yet invigorating track with an electric bass line that is infectious.
The energy from the two was very high, and they were both able to coordinate perfectly between each other mixing and pumping the audience up. Paavo took the liberty of holding his laptop in the air with the screen reading inspirational yet comical messages to the crowd. This unique form of interaction with the crowd would be brought over to the Commodore show where they had a giant screen at their disposal to replace the Macbook. Its fair to say from the Friday show that Paavo is a professional crowd pleaser and that his positivity definitely affected the Celebrities A&B fans in a prodigious manner.
All the production value for a big time show would come within the confines of the Commodore Ballroom, while the smaller intimate setting at Celebrities nightclub provided a chance for fans to get up close and personal with the artists.
Saturday June 16, 2012: Commodore Ballroom
The clink of glasses; the workings of an ATM in the corner spitting out cash; the sound of the cap being removed off a water bottle. Like a fog covering a grass field, these sounds would be nothing more than reverberating waves floating high in the air above the Commodore Ballroom, neither to be seen or heard. Hundreds of fans screaming, grabbing, and clawing in a mad scramble to get closer to the front of the show. And yet, there was a strange serenity in the atmosphere of that Saturday night when Jono and Paavo came on stage for their set.
The calming ambience of the night club found it’s roots in the display section behind the artists. From a giant screen, there were images and messages being projected with the Group Therapy theme in mind. Throughout the show, it was not uncommon to see black and white images of the crowd raging out of control or the lyrics to a particular track emblazoned across the screen in an interactive atmosphere that carried on well through the night.
Some highlights of the show included a piano rendition of “On a Good Day” during which the entire Commodore crowd sang along, in moment of pure bliss, and the delay to the drop of “Sun and Moon”, during which Jono and Paavo invited a girl on stage to push the button to release the drop. Let’s not forget the showers of confetti that filled the air as the show was coming to close. My highlight of the night was the last track – “Alone Tonight” by Above and Beyond feat Richard Bedford. A big room track with a soulful vibe, it’s beautiful progressive melody really summed up the show, and capped an ending to a great night.
All in all, both shows were extremely enjoyable experiences but the two definitely carried their differences. Having witnessed both shows, its fair to say that the Commodore show was on a whole different level. Paavo and Jono put more passion into the Commodore show than the Celebrities one. This is understandable seeing as the tickets for the Commodore were more expensive, there were more people at the larger venue, and all their stage production was at the Commodore. The hugely superior production value at the Commodore definitely was a game changer but it also seemed that more memorable tracks including the “On A Good Day” piano cover were played at the Commodore show. Regardless of how the two shows stacked up against each other, Above & Beyond proved to us that they are legends in EDM and their appearances in Vancouver are well worth the price.
Photo credit: Ariel Gelmon via Cascadia Records