Review – Decoded Magazine heads to Cream Grand Finale Part one

When I first heard about the lineup for the Cream Grand Finale Part 1 there wasn’t really any kind of decision to be made. I simply had to witness that club filled to the rafters with ravers with a lineup that could rival a festival one last time. The reason for the series of Grand Finale parties (3 in total) is down to the fact that Nation, the home of Cream, will be bulldozed in early 2016 to make way for a new £40 million development in Wolstenholme Square. The new development will see the creation of new buildings up to 10 storeys high, a new passageway through to Wolstenholme Square to Seel Street, as well as featuring ground floor commercial space for cafes, restaurants, shops and a new home for the legendary super club, Cream.

Joining me on the pilgrimage from Manchester to Liverpool (not that far I know) was my lovely girlfriend; a first timer at Cream and my good mate and long time rave partner in crime Dave. Driving over we had to blast out some Cream classics from the car stereo in order to prepare us or the night ahead. Many discussions centered around how things used to be in the day, and how this almost felt like a night back in the late 90s with the lineup we were on our way to see. DJs like Timo Maas, Pete Tong, Roger Sanchez, Dave Seaman, Tilt, Paul Oakenfold, Seb Fontaine, Paul Bleasdale, Guy Ornadel, Allistair Whitehead, Jeremy Healy and K-Klass filled my early clubbing days at Cream, and I was always excited by lineups like this and for that I am forever thankful to Cream. I still can’t get my head around that fact this night used to be weekly! Unheard of these days!

Cream-Seb

When we arrived in Liverpool we decided to head straight to the venue, and as we suspected it was a busy one with the older crowd wanting to start their night early. I was pretty excited myself and could not wait to get inside the venue one last time. It proved to be a good decision to get in Nation early as the queue was already forming quickly on a rather dry yet fresh night in the city. As always there was good banter in the queue ,and we had many conversations about how the queue would often run right around the block especially on those Sasha nights (where he occasionally forgot to turn up!)

Upon entry to the club it was very clear this was going to be a special night. People were taking pictures next to the Main and Courtyard room signs and alongside the Cream logo in order to digitise those memories of the night; there was an air or excitement and expectation! One room had the vast majority of people and that was the Courtyard where the likes of Seb Fontaine, Paul Oakenfold and Tilt would be playing. Anthony Probyn began proceedings in the Courtyard and what a start it was for the Cream crowd. We were treated to tracks such as “Brancaccio & Aisher – It’s Gonna Be (A Lovely Day)”, “DJ Rolando – Knight of the Jaguar”, “Laurent Garnier – The Man With The Red Face” and “iiO – Rapture (John Creamer and Stephane K Remix)”.

As you can imagine, all of the above and many more that I have forgotten, got huge reactions and certainly warmed up the crowd perfectly for the arrival of Tilt, who would certainly look to take things a little deeper and more proggy sounding. As suspected the lads did not disappoint and treated the crowd to the deeper sounds of trance and progressive wich certainly got the Courtyard jumping again. Favorites such as “Killahurtz – West On 27th (A Tribe Called KHz Mix)” and their very own tracks “I Dream” and of course “Children” were personal highlights. The latter of which was their closing track, and what a way to set the emotion levels in the Courtyard… I’m sure I saw some tears of joy, although, it may have just been condensation from the ceiling of a very hot and sweaty room! Next up after Tilt was Seb Fontaine and the pressure was certainly on after the two opening sets.

When Seb stepped up to hallowed DJ booth in the Courtyard the crowd were well and truly up for it, and the temperature in the room was literally off the chart. It was far hotter than I ever remember and my shirt was more like a towel that had been used to mop up a rather large spillage. I always remember Seb being quite a presence behind the decks ,and he certainly made his mark on this night. He dropped some absolute belters including “Energy 52 – Cafe Del Mar”, “Bedrock – Heaven Scent” and “Andy Ling – Fixation” which all got the reactions they deserved and the room was very much full of love and emotion. I don’t think I have ever seen so many smiles in a club before! My personal stand out moments of his set were “Lustral – Everytime (Nalin And Kane Mix)” and “Underworld – Born Slippy” which certainly got the old faithful reaching for the lazers.

I thought it was a fitting end to what will be Seb’s last ever set in a club he lived at for 3 years. There are always interesting opinions about his residency ,but following after Paul Oakenfold had left as resident was almost an impossible task. in any case, this was up there and he hit the nail on the head on this very special night. Hats off to you Seb!!!

It was 01:30 and everyone was now ready for Paul Oakenfold to step up to the decks for the last every time and we all knew this was going to be emotional. What this man created in the 2 years as resident at Cream was just phenomenal, and I feel very privileged to witness many of those many special nights. As he stepped up to the decks you could feel the energy building. He said a few words and got to task! As you would expect from Oakenfold he dropped tracks like “Mansun – Wide Open Space (Perfecto Mix)”, “Push – Universal Nation” and “Planet Perfecto Featuring Grace – Not Over Yet 99 (Breeder’s It Is Now Mix)”. All of the aforementioned got euphoric reactions, but for me the highlights were “Amoeba Assassin – Rollercoaster (Oakey’s Courtyard Mix)” and his closing track which which is a 140bpm monster, “CJ Bolland – The Prophet”. I was very surprised to hear (from a certain Steve Parry) that this very track was the top voted for track for Paul Oakenfold to play on this night. Absolute belter! All the tracks that were played by Paul Oakenfold were decided on via a Facebook poll and then the top 15-20 were then played. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see all the acts I would have liked to have seen but that is Cream for you… Spoilt for choice!!!

The night was almost like a time machine that transported people back to those days in the 1990s. It was a very special night and was fantastic to see so many familiar faces from the Liverpool club scene past and present. It was also great to have a mix of seasoned Cream attendees and people that were attending the club for the first time, as they had heard Cream was such a special place. Everyone was welcome and there was certainly no prejudice of any kind. Liverpool is city that gets bad press at times, but it is a place full of passion, warm friendly people and has hosted some of the best club nights in the UK.

It is a real shame that the city will lose this venue but the city has to move on, and as we all know, those nights could not be created week after week as they were back then. I think in some ways it was a fitting sign off for a club that was a true super club and the last of its kind. This night was a true celebration of the best times in Cream. New York had Twilo, Manchester had the Hacienda and Liverpool has Cream at Nation for 2 more nights…

I believe the last track played by Paul Bleasdale in the Courtyard on this night was “Man With The Red Face” by Laurent Garnier but the only red faces leaving Cream were the faces of those clubbers that had a truly incredible and memorable night and were transported back to a time when clubbing was at its peak in UK.

If you would like one last chance to visit this iconic venue and clubbing institution Cream are running Grand Finale events on 24th October and on Boxing night 2015. Tickets are available here for the two events. Check out the lineup on Boxing night which includes Paul Van Dyk, Nick Warren, Todd Terry, X-Press 2, Eddie Halliwell, Chicane, Tall Pall and Danny Rampling and will be another fine example of a Cream night at Nation.

Special thanks to Rebecca Cole Photography for the pictures used in this article.


Ian French
About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and Progressive House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are fine cuisine, wine, and travel.