I spent a few days in Ibiza relaxing with Amanda and Jake after the Easter Bank holiday, before returning to the UK on Thursday (April 24th.) This is the first season that there’s been a regular scheduled London-Ibiza flight as early as April, which has made visiting La Isla Blanca much more convenient. I’ve been there a couple of times this month to make arrangements for the June return of our weekly Judgement Sundays night (more details and dj line-ups elsewhere on the site.)
Thursday involved going through records before flying from London to Manchester, the most convenient airport for that evening’s gig in Llandudno, North Wales. The night was billed as a Judgement Sundays warm-up event, and my driver Pete had gone up early to put up the JS banners, hence why I flew to Manchester, where he collected me. Coming only three days after the Easter Bank holiday, the night was slightly quieter than my previous visit, but still fairly rammed. The peculiarities of UK regional accents never ceases to amaze. For example Bolton and Manchester are only ten miles apart, but have totally different dialects. The North Welsh speak with a similar accent to Liverpudlians, or is it the other way round? Either way, being a Celtic race, the Welsh know how to have a good time, and the week’s dj’ing started very satisfactorily.
On Friday night we set off for Wales yet again, this time Newport in the South. Newport’s substantially closer to London, and it was a relief being able to leave the Capital once the Friday rush-hour had subsided. My gig was at the delightfully named ‘Mutt’s nuts’ a word-play on ‘the dog’s bollocks’ with a cartoon dog showing his gonads on the flyer! (For the benefit of non-UK readers, ‘the dog’s bollocks’ means the absolute best- anyone who can tell me where this expression originates, please let me know.) The club’s curfew was relatively early by current standards, and I played the last record at 2am, to excellent crowd response.
We then headed to Turnmills in London for the Gallery’s 8th birthday bash. Turnmills is one of my favourite clubs to play, but there’s not really anywhere to socialise and the dj booth’s tiny, so we always aim to get there bang at the beginning of my set. This meant that Pete had to drive more slowly then his normally lead-weighted accelerator foot would have preferred. It was a blessing for me, as I sneaked in at least 90 minutes shut eye.
Tiesto was on the decks before me… he loves playing there ‘cos the crowd’s very open-minded. As I jostled through the crowd he was spinning the rather un Tiesto-like Felix the Housecat, to an excellent response. Because it was a special event, quite a few old friends came out of the woodwork requesting guest list. Just about every one of them joined me in the dj booth, which is the smallest in clubland at the best of times. I could barely move or reach my record box, but coming from a background of small tightly congested illegal parties, it was nothing I haven’t experienced before, and you can’t shove your mates out of the booth. I finished my set at 5.30am and the club was still absolutely rammed.
The following day I had a Scottish double-header, and Amanda drove me from my radio show to Heathrow airport. She cherry picks which trips she’ll accompany me on, but my flight itinerary the following day (Glasgow- Cyprus) was just too off-putting, so she left me to my own devices at Heathrow.
My first Scottish stop-off was the Ice Factory in Perth which is one of the best thought-out and designed venues I play. Their VIP bar would be more at home at Pacha in Ibiza, and since owner John Bryden spends most of his summers on the White Island, it’s easy to see where the influence comes from. If I’ve any criticism of the venue, there’s a huge pillar in front of the dj booth which somewhat obscures the dj’s view of the crowd, but by all accounts this is about to be changed in a forthcoming total re-fit of the main room. I played 11-1am, and although the club was a bit thinly attended at the beginning of my set, it was pretty much full by half way through.
I was then driven to Glasgow for Inside Out, which this month took place in the slightly smaller room of the Arches. I’d attribute this to the weekend in question being one of the most difficult of the year attendance-wise. The weekends immediately following public holidays are traditionally quieter as people recover both physically and financially, and the five day Easter break is always a blow-out. This was exacerbated by the fact that next weekend is also a Bank holiday. Despite these factors, the Arches still had 1500-2000 inside with its legendary atmosphere exploding. Northern Ireland and Glasgow in particular have their own unique club chants, and in Scotland’s largest city it’s a chorus of ‘here we f**kin’ go’, shouted so loudly you can barely hear the records.
With the sound of the crowd still ringing through my ears, I headed back to a Glasgow airport hotel at 4am knowing that come hell or high water I had to be up four hours later to commence a three flight itinerary to Larnaca Cyprus. To allow myself a precious extra few minutes in bed I’d checked in for the first of my flights (Glasgow-London) the previous night, and being the first passenger to do so, secured myself a front row seat. So naturally I was first off and headed for a terminal change as my next two flights were operated by Greek carrier Olympic airways, via Athens.
I eventually arrived in Larnaca nine hours after leaving Glasgow. This was my first trip to Cyprus. Despite having been offered the chance to visit Ayia Napa, I’d waited til an opportunity came to dj to a local rather than a tourist-based crowd, and the gig took place in the capital Nicosia.
I had a three hour nap before heading to the event, a Gatecrasher tour night where I was dj’ing alongside Serious stable-mate Matt Hardwick. There were at least 2000 in the club and the atmosphere was superb… people were dancing everywhere including on all the bars in the club, which must have made the bar staff’s job quite difficult. I made a couple of carefully prompted announcements in Greek on the mic, which seemed to go down well with the crowd. The promoter Thanos plans to stage some parties in nearby Beirut as well, which is another place I’ve always wanted to visit. If that event’s anything like as good as his Nicosia offering, I’m onto a very good thing indeed.
The following day we had a delicious long and lazy Mediterranean fish lunch, where Thanos gave me a potted history of Cyprus and its separation from the Turkish North almost 30 years ago. Then I headed back to Larnaca airport, where on this occasion I caught a direct BA flight to Heathrow. On arrival, Amanda met me and we headed to Boy George’s house in Hampstead. He’s sung on a couple of the tracks on the Hi-gate album, and we organised a competition via MTV, Radio 1 and other media outlets allowing prizewinners to attend a private party at George towers with a live vocal performance of some of the tracks from the album. The party was great fun, and George’s house is to die for. The only crimson-faced moment was when George invited Paul and I behind the mic to perform backing vocals. Even though I sing on one track on the album (Are you the shepherd) my vocal talents are sorely lacking, and Amanda told me I looked very uncomfortable.
I headed home and was asleep by 1am. However, two and a half hours later I was out the door and heading for Stansted airport in the first leg of a full-on day of multi-country travelling. I took a 6am flight to Ibiza (this early cos til next month it’s the only direct scheduled daily flight.) I was due to appear before a genuine judge (I’m the pseudo variety) in the Central Court of Ibiza on a property planning related issue. I won’t bore you with the detail, as I was only in Ibiza for four hours before jetting off again to Amsterdam via Barcelona. I had just enough time to have a chilled out lunch at gorgeous Cala Jondal beach, not far from the airport, and despite the fact it was only April, the weather was in the high twenties.
I arrived in Amsterdam around 8pm, the connection via Barcelona having eaten up a lot of time, and met with Amanda, Lippy, who runs the site, and his girlfriend. We stopped off for a couple of hours at our hotel before Amanda and I were driven just over an hour to Eindhoven, for the first of the two massive Qontact events taking place that evening (April 29th.) I did the same itinerary last year, Qontact Eindhoven followed by Qontact Amsterdam, and this year the dj line-up was the same on both bills… Paul Van Dyk, Tomcraft, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten and myself. Both had massive crowds, in the 10,000 region, and similar to last year, the atmosphere was slightly better in Amsterdam, though both were very memorable occasions. I finished at 7am, which equated to having been up for 28 hours, so crashed out like a light as soon as we got back to our hotel room.
The following morning Amanda and I paced round the streets of Amsterdam, as Queen’s day turns all of Holland into a massive street party. It’s tradition that anyone’s allowed to set up street-side stalls to sell anything from their houses (legal things that is!) Sadly it was pouring with rain, so we eventually returned to our hotel and travelled back to London mid-afternoon.
More next week…