Review: Tiesto at Arrow Hall

by Christine Estima

October 3, 2009 @ Arrow Hall – Toronto, Ontario

Tiesto, known as the world’s number one DJ, who has toured the globe several times over and is probably more ubiquitous than Michael Jackson, could never play a concert in a venue like Massey Hall or Air Canada Centre. Trance beats and seats bolted to the floor are not conducive to an effective club vibe.

Luckily, the organizers of his world tour in support of his recent album Kaleidoscope were smart enough to book Arrow Hall for his Toronto stop, as it is essentially just a massive converted airport hanger. Nothing but floor space for the almost 10,000 fans in attendance to dance their asses off. And, unlike ACC concerts where shows must end around the same time as last-call, this Tiesto concert went until 3am.

Six hours of nothing but pure majestic beats to rock your energized body by a DJ nothing short of brilliant.

Throughout opener Kill The Noise’s set, the anxious crowd chanted TI-EST-TO which is to a lesser act would have killed their spirit but they spun on, warming up and energizing the crowd. By the time the Dutch-born DJ took the stage at about quarter past eleven, dressed in a simple T-shirt and jeans, the crowd (or those who weren’t in line to pound back the beers) bum-rushed, arms reaching to sky, already bouncing up and down to the mere sight of the psychedelic images on the mega-pixelated jumbrotrons behind the turntables, playing new tracks such as current single “I Will Be Here,” “Kaleidoscope,” and “Feel It In My Bones,” he also displayed his passion for the new trend of mash-ups, sampling from Eric Prydz, U2, even reimagining his previous Delerium mix of “Silence,” featuring Sarah McLachlan. Canadians feature prominently in his new mixes–Nelly Furtado, Tegan & Sara, even Emily Haines from Metric, who have lended themselves to the uniquely euphoric Euro-club tunes that wouldn’t be out of place in one of Ibiza’s notorious foam parties.

As the trippy lights, lasers and strobe-effects zapped through the crowd, Tiesto shot his hands up in the air with each organ-grinding pulse. One of the major flaws of his music is that, after so many albums (and he’s released five in only nine years!), his slow-building throbs, swirling synths and life-affirming crescendos tend to follow a predictable formula that is neither unique nor inspiring. Luckily, Tiesto is not known as a recording artist. His music is something best left live, because his brand of trance makes the kids breakdance like they got ants in their pants.

The genre is constantly evolving, absorbing new styles and techniques, becoming something new with each decade, leaving the trance from merely 10 years ago unrecognizable. The only constant is that the desired effect is to make you feel young, alive, rapturously euphoric, and prepared to dance all night in an attempt to shake off the mortal coil and become angels. That is what Tiesto delivered, and when the six hours of body-grinding were up, I didn’t even notice my shinsplints, bruised & swollen toes, and dance-sweat-soaked shirt.

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