Cream Reunion #3 – Courtyard @ Nation, Liverpool (26/11/2011)
The first Cream Reunion in January was held in the smallest of the 3 rooms, ‘The Annexe’ which holds around 700 people, the second this May moved up to the ‘Main Room’ with a capacity of 1000! As the Cream Reunion brand is still growing there was only one place that the third reunion could be held, the 1,300 capacity Courtyard, made famous by Paul Oakenfold’s legendary residency.
For many of the Cream regulars between 1999 – 2002 (including myself) the Courtyard was the place to be, of all my favourite Cream memories, most of them are from the Courtyard with a few from the Annexe and even less from the Main Room. The thought of going back to the Courtyard and trying to recreate some of those memories was incredibly exciting.
Thankfully the night lived up to all expectations, from the moment we arrived at around 11:15pm we could tell there was a great vibe and the same friendly atmosphere that we remembered from back in the day, something that unfortunately is hard to find in many clubs these days.
We caught the end of Steve Parry’s set which seemed OK for a warm up but we were perfectly timed to see Mick Park and John Graham (Quivver) ‘back to back’ . Although back to back meant playing 1 hour each rather than playing alternate record as is the norm, personally I was glad about that as I don’t feel that their progressive music is particularly suited to a traditional B2B set which tends to be more trivial with the DJs attempting to out do each other.
John Graham (Quivver)
John Graham was up first and played a good set, it built up slowly to the highlights which were Quivver’s remix of Maria Naylor’s ‘Angry Skies’ and especially ‘Stoneproof – Everything’s Not You’ which is also produced by John Graham and sounded just as incredible as I remember from the last time I heard it in the Courtyard over 12 years ago!
Mick Park’s first track was Orbital – Nothing Left with a great Deep Space intro and continued with one classic record after another. Including classic Paul Oakenfold tracks ‘Southern Sun’ and ‘Transa – Enervate’ and ending with the epic Sasha – Xpander. He also played a brand new Tilt remix of ‘Apollo 440 – Liquid Cool’ which sounded great and makes the news that Tilt are working on new material even more interesting.
Following their DJs sets Mick Park & John Graham joined up with the rest of ‘Tilt’ and lots of drums & keyboards appeared on stage ready for their live production. It’s the first time I had ever seen a live production in the Courtyard and the setup seemed a little strange but the tracks certainly were not, amongst the 6 track set were 3 tracks that are not only Tilt classics but Courtyard classics:- ‘Butterfly’, ‘Invisible’ & ‘Children’ the latter almost blew the roof off!
Next up was the highlight of the night for me, Samuel Lamont aka Sam Bunbury one of the organisers of the Cream Reunion events. His set from the first Reunion in the Annexe was fantastic and I still play it regularly, his set from the second night was also great but his set this time was the best yet. Absolutely perfect for the venue, the crowd and the time slot. He opened with ‘Dead Can Dance – Sanvean’, a haunting operatic vocal track played by Paul Oakenfold in his Goa Mix and Another World CD and it sounded good, spine tingling good! He then brought in the classic Courtyard opening tracks ‘Y-Traxx – Mysteryland’ by this time he already had the crowd in the palm of his hands and proceeded to play one of the best sets i’ve heard in the Courtyard, it really could have been 1999 and a certain Mr Oakenfold behind the decks. Every track was a classic but for me the highlights were ‘Armin – Blue Fear’, ‘Insigma – Open Our Eyes’, ‘Amoeba Assassin – Rollercoaster’ and the epic ‘Solarstone – 7 Cities’. I’m hoping that there will be a Cream Reunion #4 but if there is Sam is going to struggle to better this incredible set.
Man With No Name
Following Sam was a Perfecto legend, ‘Man With No Name’. Before the event I imagined that it would be another live production like Tilt but it turned out to be a DJ set. Personally although I love MWNN productions the DJ set was a little much, he was given a 1hour 15minute time slot but I think it may have been better to have been 30 – 45 mins. There’s no doubting that MWNN has produced some absolute classic tracks, Floor Essence, Vavoom, Teleport and Sugar Rush in particular are legendary and they all sounded amazing, the problem was that the tracks in between were all very generic psy trance and not that interesting, especially after Sam’s epic set. The Courtyard cleared quite quickly which is a shame as it meant many people missed the really great Man With No Name tracks and he seemed like a really good guy who was obviously enjoying himself and still loves his own music which is great.
The only downside to this night was the music volume, it was noticeably quiet in the Courtyard which is certainly not how we remembered it. My friend speculated that it was caused by the speaker setup, the main speakers being at the side and seemingly no front facing speakers which seems very odd. However since then we have learned that the volume was turned down shortly into Mick Park’s set due to a complaint from a local hotel. That in itself seems odd since it was a Saturday night and Cream have held nights there for over 20 years, many of them much louder!
Overall though the night was fantastic and by far the best Cream Reunion yet. I’m already looking forward to a possible fourth reunion but at the same time slightly nervous that it won’t live up to expectations after this one.