Asking Mrs M if it is ok to go out clubbing midweek to listen to some classic dance tunes from my youth, during the build-up to Christmas and on the same day as Little M’s first nativity performance, just a few nights after our work Christmas party and leaving her to negotiate a challenging bedtime routine, would most likely end with discussion about how to manage a midlife crisis.
Fortunately, Pete Tong has come up with a workaround and has added a full classically trained orchestra to his repertoire and is now touring venues across the UK. So when I asked if I could go and see a unique performance by an orchestra of my favourite music, how could she refuse?
Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra
In 2015 Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra conducted by Jules Buckley combined some of the biggest dance records, an iconic DJ and a 65 piece orchestra to perform ‘House Classics’ live at the BBC Proms. Following on from the success of the first LP and live concerts, a second album of ‘Ibiza Classics’ was released with a supporting tour.
The Albums | Classic House & Ibiza Classics
‘Classic House’ and ‘Ibiza Classics’ will fit perfectly into my vinyl collection – covering many of the best dance records from the 1990s onwards. A compilation of many of my favourite tracks from my DJing, Clubbing & Student days, they are seamlessly mixed into a two disk LP.
From my first job at Rosies Nightclub in 1998/99 when ‘ATB – Till I Come’ had just been released, working at festivals, to my career at Leeds, Largest Nightclub – Evolution which hosted events such as Sundissential, Floorfillers, VodkaLeeds and Dance Classics – I have loved dance and trance music.
I first saw Pete Tong at Homelands Festival in 1999 on another of my trips to watch my favourite band of all time – Faithless. By then he had already been broadcasting on Radio 1 for eight years and dominated the dance scene with the Essential Selection albums and radio shows (which he currently records from his garage in Los Angeles).
The albums demonstrate again how Pete Tong has continuously re-invented himself, keeping ahead of the curve and championing new music, taking dance to new audiences throughout the world.
Which is best? Classic House v Ibiza Classics
The Classic House album is my favourite of the two, and the one I will be adding to the collection. From a personal perspective, it includes more tracks that were high on my playlist as a 20 Year Old. Musically, it also seems to make better use of the orchestra, although tracks such as ****** on Ibiza Classics are so impressive.
Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra Live in Concert
When purchasing tickets for the arena tour, I consciously made the decision to pay extra for seated tickets and watching everyone stood up in the pit at Leeds Arena, I was quietly pleased with my choice… that was until the opening ten seconds of Fatboy Slim’s ‘Right Here Right Now’ when I instantly changed my mind.
The power of the live percussion, full on strings, iconic samples from the opening track and laser light show set the tone for an epic dance music experience.
I wanted to be clubbing like it was 1999 again! Although we made a good effort, it is always a little awkward trying to throw your shapes, whilst keeping your feet firmly planted in the small space in front of a stadium chair.
The sound quality was excellent for an arena performance. The balance was surprisingly impressive considering the challenges of live mixing digital and analogue sounds across a large venue not designed for nightclubbing. There were no giant floor speakers for people to lie against whilst the thumping bass decimates their insides.
All in all, the dance music meets classical orchestra has been produced brilliantly on LP and Live.
If you would like to find out more – visit petetong.com or go and see the full show outdoors at Lytham Festival – one of the greatest outdoor events.