Live Review: Armin Van Buuren

12 June 2014 | 11:13 am | Jemma Gomularz

There is only one word for this show: intense. 

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Beefed-up chests and inked arms bared by low-slung singlets, midriffs and 'cheeky' high-cut denim shorts. This isn't this year's Stereosonic festival, it's Armin Van Buuren's 'Armin Only – Intense' concert, summoning only the keenest festival-goers to Hisense Arena. We're given abrupt orders, our bags and pockets are checked and bodies scanned. The security is tight, even tighter than some girls' short shorts. As we wander into the arena, a large, white dome sits at centre-back of the stage, presumably where Van Buuren will appear. The warm-up music already has the GA area packed to the edges. We spy a few topless males shuffling and, already, one girl is carried out of the arena.

The suspense among the crowd grows as one of Van Buuren's guitarists begins playing on a small side stage, increasing the tempo that seamlessly blends into trance music. Captivating female vocalist Fiora (who features on Van Buuren's song of the same name) sings Waiting For The Night towards the dome that now features impressive snow-capped mountains. Still, there's no sign of Van Buuren himself.

Finally, we get a strong sense that the number one Dutch DJ will soon be revealed. Visuals now turn the dome into a planet soaring through a galaxy. Dancers surround the dome as dramatic choir music plays; the intensity in the crowd escalates. We hear Van Buuren's voice: “All we can do is, be is, who we are… so be intense with me.” Two giant hands appear on the screen and appear to lift up the dome as it ascends into the abyss. We are left with the man himself.

Opener Intense seamlessly blends Miri Ben-Ari's profound violin skills into the transient music we've come to know and love from Van Buuren. Canadian singer Trevor Guthrie sings mega hit This Is What It Feels Like live and this induces a few more dance moves from the crowd. There's even dancers onstage dressed in different coloured morphsuits, jumping on inbuilt trampolines – cool. Van Buuren's tunes are designed to put you in a hypnotic state of euphoria so we feel slightly uncomfortable not being somewhat intoxicated listening to the trance music. We're pretty jealous of the catharsis other patrons are achieving, letting themselves disassociate body from mind as they succumb to the ever-present beat. However, the seamless flow of music, impressive pyrotechnics and lighting design keep even sober patrons thoroughly entertained. There is only one word for this show: intense.