There is a saying that goes, when you are tired on London you are tired of life and the same could be said for one particular club that always seems to rise to the occasion and keep us attentive & attracted, this bank holiday being no exception. So, whilst some of the scenes biggest guns playing their cards and took the opportunity to steal the show, others decided to simply stand in the wings and watch as Beyond pulled its own ace out of the pack, headlining a one-off performance by one of its now legendary all star residents. And whist this incredible individual took the bold & brave decision to retire from the decks earlier this year, a return at some stage was always on the cards, our inside track deluding to this special appearance many weeks before, but the news breaking to the wider world just last month, Alan K’s re-emergence to our most favourite of afterhours the centre piece of a Beyond circus spectacle that promised much for this final bank holiday weekend of 2011. But did The Big Top” delver to expectation?, how did Alan fair for this one-off set showing? And what was our verdict on this latest chapter in the Beyond book of brilliant bashes?
To say that we were gutted to miss out on Alan’s then final ever Beyond performance back in March, a pre-planned holiday home to South Africa having kyboshed our appearance at what turned out to be an emotional charged yet euphoric curtain call by this mesmeric multi mixing master who had, for the previous three years virtually owned the final set in the main room. Indeed scores of people would make the homage to the holy grail that was Area on a Sunday morning to see him perform, hardly a week going by without Alan’s inclusion in the line-up. With his retirement from the decks coming as a bit of a shock, while we did our best to get used to the idea, it would be fair to say that Beyond from then on always seemed to be lacking of his presence, yes we have enjoyed countless weeks in its grips, not least courtesy of other all-stars from the clubs residency repertoire, Steve Pitron, Mikey D, The Sharp Boys, Fat Tony, Jamie Head & The Oil to mention just a few, but without Alan was like having that final piece of your treasured jigsaw missing, a gap that could never really be filled without the proper part. So, having missed out on that final set, we were determined not to miss this special appearance, breaking our summer siesta & clubbing curfew especially, Beyond’s “Big Top” event set to he the star turn of our weekend return as well as Alan’s.
So, we were Beyond bound, arriving at Area’s doors at just turned 7 a.m., having taken a short disco nap & break following our first weekend excursion to WE London’s “Prison Of Love” event, the respite allowing us to recharge our batteries ready for what was expected to be a Beyond bank holiday bash to remember. That said, it was also going to prove an emotional one, not least due to Alan K’s showing, but as much to the absence of one of its other truly legendary resident’s, Steve Patron missing from a main room line-up that would have proved perfect had he been there, but with Mikey D taking up the mantle of the first slot, then Alan sliding into the second, the path was clear for Jamie Hammond to complete the revised roster. But this had all only become apparent to us after having negotiated not one, but two lengthy coatcheck queues, our arrival at the head of the first met with “…sorry no more bags, you need to go to the other one…”, this mindless muddle marring the efficient entry engineered by the terrific Tom.
With this delay adding to our already late arrival, on top of the fact that the massive numbers already occupying the club meant it was just gone 8 a.m. before we made it close to our spot in Beyond’s main room, our timing however proving perfect as Alan K’s arrival matched ours, hoards of followers of his trying to grab a piece of his attention, like us truly excited to see him back. But, with a slightly nervous Mr K heading off in search of some dutch courage, we assumed our tightly packed place, as Mikey D lauded a score of superb sounds on us, picking Pitron-esque anthems that would surely have just one result, an over pouring of emotion that was to see us literally weeping on our squeezed out spot, Steve’s absence already telling. With first a message from our music maestro hitting us hard, then Mikey’s selection of the towering track “You’ve Got The Love” tumbling our tears, we spent the rest of his prolific performance wiping our emotional eyes, yet in awe of Mr Dower’s dynamic deliveries.
Now it was time for multi mixing master Mr K to assume the decks, he having installed his own equipment for the special one-off performance in the knowledge that he wanted to treat the Beyond faithful to the best that he could muster, his assumption of the decks the most amazing antidote to our exaggerated emotions, turning tears of sadness into jubilant joy, the crowd filling out an already packed main room even more as he started his spectacular set in superb style. And in an instant we knew we were in for something quite special, the equipment allowing Alan to exercise his multi mixing to the max, our ears pricking up to the scintillating sounds of not just two but sometimes three tracks blended brilliantly, this legend in our lifetime already in full flow, head down & concentrating on his creations. So good was the music mixing and the reception he was receiving that the arrival of the dancers on the stage seemed much more of a side show than a main attraction, that attraction being Alan who continued to pump out one pulsating production after the other.
But Mr K wasn’t hogging all the spotlight of this superb Beyond smash, as The Sharp Boys had assumed the chapel room decks, taking over from stalwart Paul Christian, the duo of George & Steven showing a tech side to their music that brought memories of Trade’s lite lounge zooming back, a moments respite from the main room machinations find us in their clutches and loving every minute. Then there was the terrace, Fat Tony completing a slightly experimental yet intriguing line-up of Leandro Kloppel & Ariel, the Brazilian making his Beyond debut and very much setting the scene with a creditable opening set. But the main room was where much of the action was occurring, the space having been decked out in with circus style production to befit the “big top” theme, the most striking element being a life like & size tiger right in front of the D.J. booth, while a gazebo tent towards the back was probably as close as the team could get to the circus equivalent.
However all eyes were still on Alan, who had turned out tons of terrific tunes by now, the main room not waning one little bit, rather lapping up ach & every morsel of music he was masterminding, the multi mixing continuing and everyone ecstatically enthralled with the energy he was engulfing them with. And it was clear he was in the zone as the usual glimpses over the D.J. booth in our direction were noticeably absent, save for one instance when the look on his face & ours said everything, this proving as one of his most prolific performances we had witnessed all year. However, with Jamie Hammond now in the house, the time was drawing near when Alan’s one-off set would come to an end, his young compatriot a little nerve wracked with the occasion, no surprise since this was his first beyond main room set and following Alan would always prove to be a tall order. And when the switch came, we grabbing a moment to congratulate Alan on his awesome appearance, Mr Hammond took up the challenge superbly, keeping the octane fuelled atmosphere that he had inherited from Alan as pulsating powerful as his predecessor, the room reacting resplendently. For us, however, with our rusty iron lung little out of practice and our stamina having been shortened by our summer siesta, it was nearly time to throw in the towel, especially given the further schedule of parties ahead, so after one final circulation of the club & outside space, it was time to wave farewell to this awesome Alan audaciousness, catching the man of the moment on our way out to say a fond farewell & thank you for what was without doubt the set of the weekend.
So, it kind of goes without saying that Beyond, once again, proved a spectacular bank holiday success, all roads certainly pointing in its direction as they do most weeks, although on this occasion there was no doubting the draw of Alan K made for an even bigger crowd than usual. And the man certainly didn’t disappoint, very much making up for the absence of Steve Pitron, serving up a most stunning set that was trademark terrific in every respect, this “Big Top” bonanza very much about this multi mixing maestro & his magnificent music. But hats also have to go off to the supporting cast of stars, all to added to the amazing Alan effect, The Sharp Boys tech tainted triumph, Jamie Hammonds superb showing and the whole terrace crew, but moreover to the delectable deliveries from Mikey D, who sent our emotions racing & our hearts pounding with his heavenly hits. But the last mention has to go to Alan, Beyond certainly a pooper place without his regular inclusion, yet with his priorities firmly set on raising & looking after his young family, we can simply be thankful for this special appearance and only hope that he can fit in the odd one here & there, and when he does, you can bet your bottom dollar we will be there to witness it. (DISCO MATT)