Generations of electronic music fans descended upon Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl Thursday (Nov. 9) evening where legendary tastemaker Pete Tong brought his highly anticipated Ibiza Classics live show, re-imagining some of the White Isle’s iconic dance records over the decades into orchestral interpretations alongside Jules Buckley and The Heritage Orchestra.
With ravers and rave lords such as Paul Oakenfold and Jamie Jones in attendance, the night’s opener and Ibiza residency holder, Guy Gerber, brought his melancholic blend of house and techno for his first live performance in nearly four years that for 45 minutes, felt like a Burning Man sunset gig.
After a set change, Tong takes to the decks, a baton-clad Buckley steps onto the rostrum and the multi-piece orchestra filter onto the stage as the crowd rumbled with applause embellished by sporadic whistles. The BBC Radio luminary, whose facial expressions are typically stoic and restrained, appeared unusually excitable to premiere his 80-minute anthemic renegade at a bucket list venue like the Bowl.
Launching into orbit with Fatboy Slim’s 1998 staple “Right Here, Right Now,” Tong transitioned into the melodious classic “Panjoo” by Eric Prydz (whom he announced was sitting in the audience) then completed the opening trifecta with the orchestral-driven nu-disco smash “Lola’s Theme” which served as an homage to the track’s legacy in popularizing string instruments in dance records over a decade ago. London-based vocalist Sam White, who celebrates 20 years of professional singing credits this year, joined for the latter performance.
While the 22-track lineup of classics was the headliner, Tong’s conundrum of invited special guests also stole the show. “Please welcome to the stage, the man who brought the rave to America, Moby!” exclaimed Tong near the top of his set. Moby’s famous bald-headed silhouette complimented by those iconic thick eyeglass frames glided into position on stage with guest singers Mindy Jones and Julie Mintz in tow to perform his Twin Peaks-inspired classic “Go” where the multi-instrumentalist took on the role of conga maestro. He returned later on in the set for a stirring rendition of “Porcelain” where he joyously ran back and forth waving his arms in vertical motion to incite a roaring response from the audience.
Among other featured guests, Brendan Reilly crooned “Your Love” and Daft Punk’s Grammy-winning party go-to “One More Time.” Vula Malinga took on “Good Life,” “Running” and “Where Love Lives,” meanwhile festival favorite duo AlunaGeorge covered “Body Language” and “You Don’t Know Me” and even Aloe Blacc closed the show with a soul-bearing cover of Candi Staton’s 1986 hit “You Got the Love” which was remade in 2009 by Florence and the Machine whose version was then famously remixed by Toolroom Records boss Mark Knight.
Techno snobs, house heads, trap lords, disco divas, no matter what electronic music sub-genre fans identify with, there’s no denying the equalizing experience of cross-generational anthems — rooted in soul and double dipped in nostalgic energy — being played out in such cinematic fashion as Tong’s masterful live recreations. Technology may continue to catapult dance music into new sonic territory, but it’s this enduring essence of the human spirit that remains the genre’s transcendental lifeline.
Here’s the set list:
“Right Here, Right Now”
“9pm / Till I Come”
“Go” (w/ Moby)
“Where Love Lives”
“Body Language / YDKM” (w/ AlunaGeorge)
“One More Time”
“Porcelain” (w/ Moby)
“Strings of Life”
“Cafe del Mar”
“You Got The Love” (w/ Aloe Blacc)