Luciano begins as he means to continue, setting up very comfortably in his Thursday slot at Ushuaïa…
But it's best to come clean – I was an Ushuaïa Virgin until last night. So not only was I seeing and hearing the venue with fresh eyes and ears, but the set times caught me out big-time. Who knew Laurent Garnier would be on so early!? Obviously everyone, since the place was heaving when I arrived to hear the final tones of Garnier swallowed by crowd chatter and my own wails of bitter disappointment. Fortunately, Spotlight have eyes and ears everywhere and I am informed that yes – his set was excellent and yes – he played that absolute bone-rattler of an original Gnanmankoudji, probably whilst I was eating flies on the moped. Lesson learned the hard way.
As Luciano took over the decks to roars of approval, I decided to do a circuit of the venue. I found what I can best describe as a stylish plastic safari: statues of waltzing frogs, lounging crocodiles, creeping ants and pouncing lions were dotted across smooth, white-washed architecture surrounding a giant chlorinated watering hole, in which a smattering of the bravest-of-the-brave party-goers stood paddling (the shallow end, of course). The venue was decadent and epitomized a certain side of Ibiza life perfectly. The theatrical stage, dazzling lights and open air space gave Ushuaïa a festival vibe – without the mud.
Luciano, meanwhile, had the masses moving with his usual bouncing deep house bassline and tribal percussion. Just as at the Ushuaïa opening last week, he played a mystery tune with a euphoric piano riff twice within a few hours… something you want us to notice, Luciano? Well it’s worked – we’re all gagging for the release of this gorgeous track, which I can only hope is imminent.
Things continued to roll along pleasantly until he dropped remix number one-hundred-and-thirty-billion of Australian golden boy Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know. As an Australian who discovered Gotye when you were still on soft foods, remixes of this song are my pet hate number one. I was grossly outnumbered, however. Cheers rang out at the first hint of a lyric and the remix was a complete hit with the crowd. Bah Humbug.
I was soon shaken out of my Gotye-grump with the explosion of CONFETTI BUTTERFLIES over my head – always an instant winner. Call me a child but when they get caught in the golden light I go all mushy inside. I stood with my neck craned and mouth open in a dopey smile for probably that little bit too long… but BUTTERFLIES!
Towards the end of his set, Luciano shook up his usual deep swinging bassline: the tempo lifted, the bass got a little straighter, the hi-hats louder and synthesizers seemed to be pulled straight from the 90s. This shift into something a bit more straightforward and hard hitting really jerked the set into life and lifted the atmosphere noticeably. This change in style was nicely rounded off by Luciano’s own remix of the Scala and Kolacny Brothers ethereal cover of Radiohead’s Creep. It was a haunting version of a familiar song and for those open to it, it was a bit of a moment.
So I’ve popped my Ushuaïa cherry and, despite some painful mistakes on my part, it was an altogether pleasurable experience. Judging by how busy it was yesterday I expect Thursday nights at Ushuaïa to be very popular during the whole summer. And with reason, as each week will see top quality guests joining Luciano on this night (next week features Radio Slave and Nina Kraviz).
Does the new music live up to the old name?
...because egg-white omelettes aren't for everyone.
As they say... music heals.
The Brighton based festival will be revealed in full on Thursday 29th January.