PETE TONG PRESENTS IBIZA CLASSICS, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 2 Dec 2016

With Clean Bandit taking cello to the top of the charts and two separate orchestral house albums coming out in the past few weeks, dance and classical music are having an unlikely bromance. DJ Pete Tong’s project, debuted at a Prom last year and now seen on a larger scale than the Hacienda Classical event that comes to the Albert Hall next May, employed conductor Jules Buckley and his Heritage Orchestra to bring gravitas to a barrage of arms-aloft Ibiza anthems.

Hits such as Fatboy Slim’s Right Here Right Now and Robert Miles’s Children had strings in their original form anyway. On others such as Daft Punk’s One More Time, the rock dynamics of the core band overpowered even this huge number of musicians. Tong urged on the packed crowd from the back, while Buckley’s conducting flourishes weren’t a million miles away from the thrown shapes of the committed raver.

Guest singers included Jessie Ware, passionate in her first appearance since having a baby, plus Ella Eyre and John Newman, whose hits with Rudimental have been granted Ibiza classic status rather quickly. The biggest cheeers were reserved for Candi Staton, now 76, who still had soul on her 30-year-old and still timeless You Got the Love.

This could have been a toothless taming of clubland favourites, designed for people who now spend more money on babysitters than glowsticks. As it turned out, the energy remained and a surplus of violinists was a preferable kind of excess to the current dance scene’s laser overload.

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