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Review: Armin Van Buuren at Ushuaïa opening party 2014

The roof is off! A State of Trance has been let loose on Ibiza.

The sun was setting behind the Ushuaïa stage and A State of Trance support DJ Andrew Rayel was up on the table, swinging his arms wildly from side to side as the tightly packed crowd in front of the pool was mimicking his movements in perfect unison. As you looked back across the sea of people towards the beach end of Ushuaïa the waving arms gradually lost their vigour, until a group of more mature clubbers (mums and dads on tour?) right at the back put the young ones to shame, knocking out a perfectly timed, energetic double hand wave for the duration of the song.

It was about 9pm and Rayel was coming to the pointy end of his set, having rewarded those committed enough to come and rave to trance in broad daylight (an unusual experience) with his own epic originals like Goodbye feat. Alexandra Badoi and a classics hit list which rolled Tiesto's Lethal Industry into Delerium, followed by Gareth Emery's Sanctuary, during which the gusto of the crowd chorus rivalled the towering speaker stacks.

Daytime raving is fun but we all know trance is served best against an inky black sky (all the better to see your lasers with my dear), so it wasn't until the last light had disappeared that trance's greatest champion, Armin van Buuren, took to the stage. There was a voiceover announcing his arrival, then a pause, then another pause, then a circle of light in the stage lit up and began pulsing. First slowly, then faster and faster until those who had been clapping in time gave up and began waving and cheering for the arrival of their hero. For an instant the flashes became blindingly bright and then, as our eyes adjusted, a figure appeared in the middle of the ring of light.

Armin van Buuren came out firing, with an aggressive trance beat that shook the Playa d'en bossa palms to their roots. He was DJing from a table within the circle of light, providing rare proof that DJs do in fact have legs whilst setting an atmospheric tone with the soaring, emotive layers of Blue Tears (Joost Glazenburg remix of Waterspark). His set exemplified the light and shade that characterises good trance, flitting from dark and violent drops to euphoric melodic interludes during which Armin would stand, arms out, eyes closed, soaking up the love and music along with his fans in front. Arty's remix of London Grammar Hey Now was one such moment, and as Hannah Reid's exceptional voice sounded into the night I wondered how badly Armin would love to add her to his illustrious collection of female vocalists. After that particularly soothing break down, Armin dropped us down into an abrasive and staccato bass line at which point both the ice and fire cannons blasted on the unsuspecting crowd at once. Symbolism innit.

These days there's a lot of cross-pollination between trance and EDM. My tastes lean towards the purer strain, but the fact that the more EDM style tracks (Armin played Matisse and Sadko's Sigure and Axwell and Ingrosso's We Come, We Rave, We Love in quick succession) have hooked in a younger generation of trance fans is an overwhelming positive. You need only count the trance parties new to the island this summer to see the trance revival in Ibiza is officially underway.

The best trance music soars, and takes the listener with it. Without four walls and a roof to set the boundary anymore, Armin and A State Of Trance have truly been let loose on Ibiza.

WORDS | Jordan Smith PHOTOGRAPHY | James Chapman

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