Armin van Buuren's first night of his Armin Only: Intense tour was a proof-of-concept writ large as the master DJ/producer stood behind his sunken decks at New York's Madison Square Garden Friday (April 11) commanding the arm-waving, glow-gloved crowd with a set that began with ice-blue acoustic guitar from a satellite stage and built to a raging, bass-detonating beat-mixing explosion of confetti cannons and fog-belching vents.
In many ways, the long set felt like watching a birth. Without an opener (as the tour's title implies), van Buuren himself took the stage at 9pm sharp, ensconced in a white bubble that only made his shadow-puppet throwing silhouette visible, sending chill trance-y synths into the still-arriving audience at the famous arena as eerie landscapes beset by faux snow swirled around and behind him.
Aided by two satellite stages on which musicians occasionally played guitar, piano, and drums, joined intermittently by a phalanx of four dancers and occasional vocalists, and backed by a huge glowing display that morphed with hypnotizing geometric shapes, 'Armin' lit up in a kind of post-Blade-Runner marquee and more, van Buuren stoked the arena gradually with a roller coaster of growing rhythms that had even the nosebleeds on their feet dancing blissfully, the music emerging like a fully formed being.
van Burren's Armin Only: Intense tour rolls on to Chicago's United Center on April 17, Toronto's Metro Toronto Convention Centre on April 19, and San Jose, Calif.'s SAP Center on May 1. He moves up the west coast to Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum on May 5 before returning to California for a show at The Forum in L.A. on May 5.