Morning came with alarming speed. The Maccy Ds I had as a late night snack lay half eaten on my bedside table, and the warmed up milkshake begged to be drunk. My head was a little sore. ‘Took one for the team’ I tried convincing myself, fully well knowing it was a great night, and I would have gone anyway! Sluggishly, I got up and pottered about getting some clothes ready for my train journey to Leeds. I was not really the mood for an hour on public transport, and wondered if I should drive, then I dropped my deodorant into the toilet…. better check those train times. I was meeting Ian Dillon, our radio host and phenomenal DJ there, we exchanged texts and arranged a meeting time and place. All was set, off I go.
The taxi was late, meaning I missed my train. The next one was delayed so I bought a bottle of drink and sat down. The bottle must have been shaken up, because no sooner had I undone the lid a bit, than the whole thing fizzed all over me soaking my t-shirt and leaking over the floor. A teenage couple across from me sniggered and pointed me out to their mates, I found somewhere else to sit embarrassed and sticky with drying pop on me. “I hope this isn’t how today is gunna be” I thought.
Finally I arrive in Leeds. The train journey was actually really nice, and I reflected as I passed between the majestic Penine hills just how beautiful the English country side can be with a little sunshine. The hustle and bustle of Leeds was a welcome surprise, I had kind of imagined a sleepy back water of a town, but its a sprawling metropolis of sounds and smells and people. Ian meets me at the gate and we head off to the hotel around the corner. We’re aiming to get a little record shop mooching in before we meet Lee Softley from Blue Amazon for beers and football (Chelsea vs Man Utd), but the thing about being in a new city, is that you don’t know where stuff is, so most of the hour and a half allocated for this shopping trip was spent walking around in circles looking for the shops! We eventually find one and its packed. Its a rock store with rare copies of LPs by punk bands I didn’t know and some 80s artists I did. Record Shop day was no doubt a success, and as we looked, we reminisced about our growing up with vinyl. The warmth of the sound and the covers; the artwork, everything about vinyl was designed to be collectable. You spent time with them, got to know every groove, pop and hiss. You knew the words and the stories behind the tracks, and for compilations you researched bands you never knew until that point. It was a cultural thing thats kinda lost on the millennial generation and the growth of digital media.
Lee met us in Revolution. After a quick bite and a beer we left to find a pub with the football on. Fortunately we stumbled on one pretty quickly, only 20 minutes missed. Result! Lee is a Chelsea fan, Ian is Man Utd. There was much jovial bantering, but our passion for music soon turned the conversation towards the evenings activities. For the second half we were joined by a motley crew of Hush Hush promoters Andrew and Paul who had a group of American tourists with them. These guys from San Diego I think, had travelled over to the UK for the gig and a few weeks of sightseeing. We all chatted and got to know one another and before long the football had finished. One nil to Chelsea. Not the most exciting football match I’ve ever seen, but at least the company was entertaining.
Back at Andrews hotel Lee and I sat in the residents bar drinking local ale. We were keeping an eye out for Thermal Bear and his entourage, but ended up seeing Dave Seaman and Steve Parry instead. They were in fine form, but looking for a place to eat as the hotel restaurant was closed, so we said our good nights for now and they headed off back into the dusk.
Andrew returned ready for the sound check, but Lee and I decided to carry on chatting and drinking the local ale. It was delicious! Lee and I have been mates for a while now, but we hardly ever have chance to meet up and talk in person, so this was a great opportunity to really put the world to rights. The hours slipped by and soon it was time to go to the club. We had missed Steve who was suffering from a tummy bug, so had played first. Ian Ossia was next, and he was not messing around. Tribal drums and devilishly good melodies filled the main room and the sizeable crowd lapped it up like a classic night in Renaissance. Unbelievably this was another first for me this weekend, in all my time clubbing, Ian is one of those DJs I’ve never seen live, which is a crying shame because he is marvellous. The room jumped and clapped and came alive under his control.
Things dialled back a bit then as Thermal Bear took us on a journey of contemporary house vibes. Never too aggressive or bland, his set had sparkles of magic which kept the faithful crowd rooted to the dance floor. Upstairs the back room buzzed as the Saturo boys continually upped the ante with a blistering assortment of quality progressive sounds. But we were all waiting for the main man, Dave Seaman to arrive. Dave Seaman is a DJ you can trust. With a career spanning 20 plus years he has always been at the forefront of the progressive house movement for as long as theres been one. So it was an extra special treat for me to be behind the decks with him as he unleashed a 2 hour sensory assault which included a number of his own tracks and a few cheeky bootlegs.
In the interview I had done with him the week before he had mentioned a few new things coming out, and one of those was his opening track ‘Strobelight Serenade’. I’ll be doing a full review when it gets released, so I’ll just say this…. Check your bass bins, Im telling ya! With massive smiles on the packed dance floor and revellers vying for a handshake or a fist bump, Dave took us on a roller coaster of emotions. New and old tracks seamlessly knitted together with the ease of a man whose spent a life digging in the crates for those little nuggets of sonic gold. Highlights for me were his new tracks, a bootleg of Age of Love and a monstrous techno track by Dahu simply called ‘Sedated’. Trust me, you’ll be far from it!
Before long the night was nearly over, and as a visibly nervous Ian Dillon took over, he needn’t have worried, the crowd were ready for more, and when he dropped Neil Browne’s reimagination of the classic Sasha track Xpander, he kept everyone from the door and with Amber Longs soulful vocals on Arnos D’s remix of Eggshells soon after, this precocious young DJ had all the girls smiling. Unfortunately, Ian’s set was cut short by the club management, but everyone left with smiles on their faces and back at the hotel some of them had stayed up in the lobby for a post club wind down. We chatted a while and shared stories, but sleep was soon the priority, and we left them to it.
All in all, it was a pretty decent weekend of clubbing. I’d met 3 of my DJ heroes, and watched football with a fourth. Sunday was gunna hurt, but didn’t care. Northern clubs have always been the benchmark of the UK scene, and as far as I’m concerned, they remain so today.
Photos : Simon Huxtable & Paul Harris