Each day was dominated by one outstanding set and, particularly on day two, there were some very good others.
On the first day, we arrived during Jochen Miller’s set and also caught Tritonal before we saw Andrew Rayel. I enjoyed Rayel’s set the most of these. Although there was a fairly commercial trance feel to lots of his set – think Dash Berlin – Waiting mashed with Above & Beyond – Sun & Moon, or MaRLo – Boom, he did create an interesting and enjoyable journey through tunes like Alex M.O.R.P.H. – For The Love Of An Angel, Omnia & Ira – The Fusion, an interesting reworking of Tiësto – Just Be and his hit track with Jano – How Do I Know? Ferry Corsten joined him for some brief back-to-back DJ’ing and dropped Ferry Corsten & Markus Schulz – Loops N Tings after which Andrew Rayel played his remix of Faithless – Insomnia. Then it was time for the act I’d really come for!
Ferry Corsten back to back with Andrew Rayel, drops Markus Schulz & Ferry Corsten – Loops N Tings
The Saturday was all about Aly & Fila vs. John O’Callaghan. I’m a massive fan of both of these DJs. Fadi, of Aly & Fila, is without doubt my favourite DJ. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him play seven times in the last 12 months, including this set – in Sydney, Miami, Ibiza and Amsterdam. His brand of uplifting trance mixes very well with that of John O’Callaghan and I was really looking forward to this set, ever since it was first announced they’d be playing back to back at Stereosonic.
Sometimes when you have very high expectations, it can lead to a slight feeling of disappointment when the reality is very good, but still below the anticipated level. This was not one of those occasions! From the word go, Fadi and John were simply brilliant. I’ve heard a lot of great sets in 2013, but this was undoubtedly the best 90 minutes of pure, uplifting trance this year.
A list of the tunes they played barely does justice to the magic they weaved and they had a packed arena absolutely buzzing for the whole of the set. We heard Veracocha – Carte Blanche (Sneijder Remix), Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You (John O’Callaghan Remix), Chakra – Love Shines Through, Aly & Fila – End Of The Road, Solarstone with Aly & Fila – Fireisland, Motorcycle – As The Rush Comes, RAM – RAMelia, Aly & Fila – We Control The Sunlight, John O’Callaghan & John Askew vs Nadia Ali – Stresstest Rapture (Shura Vlasov Mashup) and John O’Callaghan – Big Sky (Signum vs. RAM Remix). And when Ferry Corsten joined them on stage for the last fifteen minutes, he dropped his classic from 2008 – Radio Crash and Fadi dropped Binary Finary – 1998.
Ferry Corsten, back to back with Aly & Fila vs. John O’Callaghan, plays Radio Crash
I was utterly blown away by this amazing set. The highlight for me being when Fadi played Above & Beyond – Home … in fact, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it as I write this.
Aly & Fila, back to back with John O’Callaghan, plays Above & Beyond – Home
On Sunday we saw MaRLo and Heatbeat as well as wandering into the next door arena to listen quickly to Mat Zo and then Gareth Emery (we beat a hasty retreat on both occasions as we didn’t like what we were hearing).
The best set of the Sunday was undoubtedly Solarstone’s, although Bryan Kearney gave him a good run for his money. No one does trance quite like Solarstone does – the Pure way. A succession of great tunes from his past as well as present: Solarstone feat. Lemon – Lovers, Lemon – We Can’t Fly (Solarstone Pure Mix), Solarstone – Solarcoaster, Solarstone – Please, Armin van Buuren feat. Emma Hewitt – Forever Is Ours (Solarstone Pure Remix), Solarstone – Seven Cities, Solarstone – Love Theme From Bladerunner (Pure Mix) and Young Parisians – Jump The Next Train. He also dropped the tune of the moment: Reorder & Ian Standerwick present Skypatrol – Folding Your Universe.
Solarstone drops Armin van Buuren feat. Emma Hewitt – Forever Is Ours (Solarstone Pure Remix)
It was a wonderful set and though the room was not as full as it had been on Saturday, the crowd lapped it up and enjoyed it from start to finish.
Coming on next, Bryan Kearney dropped great tunes like Adam Ellis – Napalm Poet, Craig Connelly feat. Christina Novelli – Black Hole, Markus Schulz feat. Fiora – Deep In The Night, Paul van Dyk – For An Angel, John O’Callaghan – Find Yourself, Sneijder & Bryan Kearney – Proper Order, John O’Callaghan – Big Sky and Solarstone with Clare Stagg – Jewel. Kearney had to cope with a more sparsely filled room, as Above & Beyond were drawing many people towards the main stage, but he kept the energy level high and left everyone who stayed wanting more.
Bryan Kearney drops Paul van Dyk – For An Angel
After Bryan Kearney, Giuseppe Ottaviani wrapped up the evening in the trance arena (which metamorphosed into the hard dance arena for the last 75 minutes of the festival). I felt he took some time to get going, but the last three-quarters of an hour was pure Ottaviani brilliance. We heard his remix of Tiësto – Adagio For Strings, 4 Strings – Take Me Away, some of the songs from his new album, Magenta – Love Will Bring It All Around (feat. Eric Lumiere) and Brilliant People (with Aly & Fila) and he wrapped up with his remix of Paul van Dyk feat. Plumb – I Don’t Deserve You.
There was just time to head over to the main stage to see Armin van Buuren playing to tens of thousands of people. It was an awesome spectacle, but the music wasn’t doing it for us and we decided to head off before the rush. I discovered later that he dropped some great tunes at the end of his set, such as John O’Callaghan & John Askew vs Nadia Ali – Stresstest Rapture (Shura Vlasov Mashup) and Armin van Buuren vs. Photographer – Airport Shivers (Armin van Buuren Mashup), which would have sounded fantastic on the main stage sound system, which was as good as any I’ve ever heard at an arena of that size. But we were happy to be heading off for some well-earned rest after two days of great music and dancing.
All in all, it had been a fantastic festival – Aly & Fila vs. John O’Callaghan the undoubted highlight, but Solarstone, Bryan Kearney and Giuseppe Ottaviani all excelled too.