It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Above & Beyond’s headline show at Transmission on Easter Sunday was a religious experience for many. Especially so given the venue, Manchester’s Albert Hall, a disused chapel in the heart of Manchester that’s quickly become the city’s most exciting venue.
Set in middle of the city centre, the Albert Hall sports all of the trappings you’d associate with a chapel; intricate stone carvings rising to the arched ceiling, a fully functional organ behind the main stage and stunning stained-glass windows flanking the crowd. There’s a real sense of theatre that you don’t often get in most modern venues, with the main dance-floor surrounded by a raised amphitheatre, giving the venue a claustrophobic feel despite its huge size.
First on stage was local hero Gavin Holland, who goes by the name Universal Solution, and he kept the punters happy and the dance-floor ticking over as the venue begun to fill out. Highlights from his set included Dusky’s ‘Words Later On’ and Spirit Catcher’s remix of Kris Menace’s ‘Voodoo Dilate’. While his mixing and tune selection was very good, you couldn’t help but think he could have done with a bit more stage presence, but ultimately he did exactly what he needed to: warm up the crowd.
Following on from Universal Solution was one-time disco man, and now progressive don, Grum. He laid down a set that showcased his new direction, and was on fine form despite nursing a nasty case of flu. The crowd did their part and gave the Leeds-based producer a much-needed shot of adrenalin as he ploughed through a considered yet well thought-out set before making way for the night’s main attraction.
Above & Beyond rarely disappoint and despite their hectic tour schedule, which had seen them play a full UK tour as well as a quick stop-off in Miami beforehand, Jono Grant and Tony McGuiness were on energetic form. Kicking off with fan-favourite ‘Sticky Fingers’, the duo begun to unload a salvo of new and old including Fehrplay’s remix of Royksopp’s ‘Sordid Affair’, Adam Beyer’s ‘Super Human’ and their remix of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’. As with all Above & Beyond shows, whilst either Grant or McGuiness was mixing the other was manning the laptop writing messages to the crowd that appeared on the screen behind them, throw in some impromptu ice cannons and fireworks and you had an exhilarating show that kept the crowd on its toes from start to finish.
Photography by Jack Kirwin