Above & Beyond deliver emotional evening to 20,000 crowd at London’s O2 Arena

Trance trio Above & Beyond returned to their home city of London on Saturday night to play a groundbreaking show at the capital’s iconic O2 Arena in what will go down as the largest ever indoor dance event to be held in the UK. A whopping 20,000 were in attendance at the sold-out show, marking Tony, Jono, and Paavo’s first return to the city’s big indoor dance venues since their 2015 ‘Little Something‘ charity event at Wembley Arena.

Having previously sold out Alexandra Palace and Brixton Academy, the trio knew something bigger and bolder was required for their 2017 appearance, with the O2 – normally a venue reserved for global pop superstars such as Adele and Ed Sheeran – packing out in record time. With a diverse range of all ages amongst the crowd, this felt like something more of a ‘show’ than a rave, such is Above & Beyond‘s spectacular array of instrumental use, which has previously seen the band host orchestra-based performances at the Royal Albert Hall, and release a special acoustic album.

From the off, it was clear the Group Therapy boys were intent on delivering their A-Game, with all three confidently striding out at around 9pm; a rare feat considering their performances are usually made up of one, or at maximum, two, of the trio at any one time. Taking over from magnificent American duo Gabriel & Dresden, the opening chords of ‘Hideaway’ echoed around the dome-shaped structure of the building, with lasers flying around the heads of the crowd from the circular production circuit lowered over them.

Fizzing through a diverse mix of some of their greatest anthems, including new Richard Bedford collaboration ‘Northern Soul’ and ‘We’re All We Need’ favourite ‘Peace of Mind’, the moment of the night was perhaps saved for the final quarter when the lights went down, and 20,000 mobile phone flashlights were hoisted up into the air to create a beaming sea of lights that accompanied melancholic tear-jerker ‘Sink The Lighthouse.’

An act capable of blurring the lines between euphoria, and overwhelming emotion, there is no act as bipolar as Above & Beyond in their abilities of persuasion to conjour up magic so so strong, 20,00 people are dancing like nobody is watching one moment, and evaluating their lives through a stream of tears the next. Whipping up a frenzy of emotion, the psy-trance kings left their crowd purring in unison to the beautiful ‘Thing Called Love’ and fans know they will only have to wait 6 short months for their next A&B fix, with the giants confirmed to play the Creamfields Steel Yard on Saturday 26th May 2018.

Certainly on the evidence of this evening, life really IS made of small moments like this.

(BA Hons Journalism), 30, London. NCTJ-accredited journalist and dance music lover specialising in interviews, features, editorial work, and reviews.

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