The HBF team went to sample the Swedish House Mafia’s tour, as the hedonism touched down for one night only on Friday, at the Manchester Apollo.
We arrived at the theatre come rave arena to be greeted with super sized queues at all the bars, we were also required to show our ticket again to go in and out of the main room – this got old very quickly.
The crowd looked like it was a made up of extras from Holly Oaks and your average sted-head, which we’ve come accustomed to with the more commercial house vibes.
The night was kicked off by An21 and Max Vangelli, a couple of Americans’, who are Steve Angello’s protégé’s – they played a limp set of house with notable tracks coming in the shape of Dennis Ferrer’s ‘Hey Hey’ and Djuma Soundsystem’s ‘Les Djinns’ something we haven’t heard for a very long time.
The soundsystem at this point was particularly poor, as the two played in front of a large white backdrop and weren’t given full reign on the sound levels. Half way through their set the crowd broke into shameful chorus’ of ‘Whompf there it is’ we then wondered what had we let ourselves in for.
We stuck with it until the Swedes came on stage for their two hour slot at 12pm – and what a difference. The white stage curtain was lifted to rapturous applause from the crowd as the Swedes unveiled their impressive stage show. The DJ booth was lifted way above ground level and was flanked by a 30Ft LED screen, 8 high-powered lasers, smoke cannons, fireworks and confetti blasters.
They kicked-off their set with fan favourites ‘One’ and then followed by ‘Miami to Ibiza’ the sound system, which we had been concerned about, burst into life flanked by an AV and pyrotechnic show normally the preserve of stadiums and the trance elite.
What we had hoped for was becoming reality as the Swedes were play a clever game of subversion – lulling the crowd into a sense that this is all we were going to get, a poor stage setup, a naff soundsystem a single blue light. Only for SHM to explode on stage and steal the show.
Their set was as unrelenting as their AV show. They threw in a cacophony of commercial cuts of electronic music everything from Adele to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers – the crowd went mad for SHM edits of Justice’s ‘We Are Your Friends’ and the Chemical Brothers’ ‘Do It Again’ and Daft Punk’s ‘Around The World’. They also threw in some curved balls in the shape The Red hot Chilli Peppers ‘How Long’ and a sweet mashup of Adele’s ‘Rolling in the deep’ and Eurhythmic’s ‘Sweet Dreams’.
We left the Apollo with our ears still ringing and on a high of energy and excitement of what we just seen in the last 2 hours. The Swedish House Mafia had take the stadium trance show condensed it into a show they can do all over the world without the cold and dark void between DJ and crowd that is often the case with stadium shows.
They brought this full on AV show to an old crumbling theatre in the centre of Manchester – and all for £25 – a marquee moment in electronic music.
It showed us that a DJ and a decent soundsystem is just the bare minimum the average punter should expect these days, when you pay DJ’s to perform you want a show, not just a man mixing music. SHM showed the adoring Manchester crowd that future of clubbing is an all encompassing stage and AV show that keeps you dancing from start to finish, with the fear of missing something truly special if you stupidly decide to leave early.