First off, Ministry of Sound at Thorpe Park was outstanding. I did not have any idea what to expect from it really, was thinking the dome would not make much of a venue and the notorious Thorpe clientèle might make things a bit uncomfortable. I was very wrong on both counts.
The evening was run like two different events stuck together, summer nights riding followed by the nightclub separately. I expected them to blend together in some way, having appropriate music pumped around the park maybe, but it was all nice and relaxed wandering through the empty dusky park with beer in hand. A couple of other bars would have been nice (there was nothing on the whole Inferno to Colossus side of the park), but riding in the darkness with no queues is always going to be superb. Was also a very nice touch of them to open up Rush and Tidal on top of the advertised line up, little things like this really make a difference, great to see the park being so generous.
Once the rides began to close everyone made their way to the club, where the transformation of the dome really worked; totally cleared of furniture and machines, surrounded by black curtain, a couple of well staffed bars set up, a huge stage and lighting rig and a sound system that really worked in what must be an awkward space acoustically. Impressive. They even had a stand selling dirty doners to mop up that alcohol, which I gratefully devoured at the end of the night. There was a bit of a scrum for the bar at first, but that soon died down. Then everyone started dancing, and didn't stop. The atmosphere was great, I didn't see any trouble (except a couple of fellas who had smuggled in joints and smoked them in the middle of the dance floor stinking the place out, if you'd call that trouble), everyone was just there for a good time and it certainly seemed like they had one.
But there is always a but. The music was not what it could have, or I think it should have, been. It started well with a good string of proper classics for an hour or so, but then it lost its way. I can see what they were aiming for, they had advertised a 90's night but most of the people who went were barely born then, so they were playing mushups of 90's with modern stuff like putting Katie Perry over some 90's tune or another. That is all very well, but there is only so much of that stuff that exists and they soon started repeating themselves, and they needed to throw in some of the real classics too.
A couple of months ago a posted a few of the tunes I would like to hear. Of those we got little snippets of just two (Insomnia (minus the essential break and build) and Funk Phenomena (as a little sample in a mash up)). Here is largely what you did miss. And this is what, unbelievably, you didn't miss...
Tori Amos - Professional Widow Arman Van Helden remix. THE bassline of the 90's, missing this was criminal!
Sugar is Sweeter - CJ Bolland Arman Van Helden remix. The other bassline of the 90's.
Moloko - Sing it Back. The 90's were chock full of sing-a-long feel good house music and this was one of the best, would have gone down a storm I'm sure, along with many other of the same ilk.
Gat Decor - Dergees of Passion. Full of energy, two classics mashed together to make something greater than its two parts.
Goldie - Inner City Life. The 90's saw the start of a whole new genre of music, maybe it wouldn't quite have fitted on the night but I'd have gone bat**** crazy.
And just as important as the record selection on a night like this is how it is all stitched together, which comes down to the skill of the DJ. In a previous life I used to do a bit of DJing myself and the mid to late 90's was my peak, now I'm not suggesting for a second I'd have done a better job than those who did this night (actually, sod it, yes I would have) but maybe if they'd have got someone from the right era they'd have had a better idea. Back then the best DJs put their personality into the mixing, and they could do that because it wasn't all slick and perfectly matched up for them by a computer hooked up to some CDJs, but was on 12" vinyl which they touched and and manipulate with their own hands, putting a huge amount of energy into the set if it is done well. Thorpe posted a pic from behind the decks, and it was indeed a pair of CDJs. There is no way the DJ could have done the music justice with those.
If you want to see what I mean I've found on youtube my favourite DJ set of all time, Jeremy Healy on the Fantazia House Collection volume 3. I must have listened to it a thousand times and still find it fresh and exciting, the tracks are amazing on their own but what Healy does with them puts the whole thing in another league. Compare this with the digitally stuck together soulless nothing MoS themselves release today on their mix compilations, and largely gave us on the night. I'm sure that no one will bother but please, clear yourself an hour and a quarter, hook this up to some proper speakers and play it loud. This is what we should have been aiming for that night...