Over the course of their storied career UK trance stalwarts Above & Beyond — Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki — have always thought big. To celebrate the 100th episodes of their Group Therapy radio program, they took their show on the road and brought it to Madison Square Garden in New York City. Big Shot‘s Kathy Vitkus, of EDMforLife, was in the thick of the action at the show and recalls five standout moments from A&B’s sold-out shindig.
1. Above & Beyond know love songs better than anyone else
Just reference lyrics like “Love is not enough for me / If it screams when you hold it,” or “I’ll never get over you, you’ll never get over me,” or “You will never realize that I inspire the dreams that guide you.” No need to worry since they haven’t lost their touch with one of their latest pondering, “If you left your heart on a lonely avenue…” They still got it and we’re all still happily teary-eyed to witness their poetry. They are still the same Above & Beyond that we know and love.
2. Ilan Bluestone has to be the most appreciative, ecstatic, kid-in-a-candystore artists to ever play Madison Square Garden
Bluestone had been gushing about it for days on Facebook and Twitter prior to the show. And when the magical moment happened, he was obviously thrilled beyond belief and having the time of his life, undeniably showing his musical abilities and his stage presence. Bluestone played a killer set. In between mixing tracks he took selfies and snapped pics of the massive crowd probably to reflect on later to make sure this all really happened. Apparently his mum was at the show, sporting a “Ilan Bluestone I’M HIS MUM…” shirt. What a proud moment for the Bluestone family.
3. Fan-tastic: A&B are the epitome of fan involvement, fan interaction, fan appreciation
Above & Beyond are the the finest purveyors of creative, fan-based ideas like incorporating a continuous flow of friend and fan names onto the palm of a hand logo on their stage backdrop during the opening of their set. This representation was clearly part of the promotion for their upcoming album yet also a sincere thank-you card of sorts to all of those who’ve supported the group over the years. And all of those tweets to #ABGT100 didn’t go unnoticed. They materialized as part of the décor high above the floor at Madison Square Garden proudly displayed on the central scoreboard throughout their show.
4. Two fans got to push the button
Speaking of fan-based ideas, it’s now a given that Above & Beyond recruit one or two lucky fans to appear on stage during their live show to push the proverbial button to initiate a track. Therefore fans arrive decked in their “Pick me! Pick me!” best-designed Group Therapy insignia clothing and/or they’re toting their best hand-made, “This is my mom’s first Above & Beyond show. Can we push the button?” signs they can muster. Well, to my post-show surprise I happen to personally know one of the two female fans who made it to the decks that night. Whether it was Catie McConnell’s Group Therapy-themed top, a chance of her being in the right place at right time, a winning hand-made sign, or an aura of the superfan that she is, Catie was handpicked by none other than A&B’s Tony McGuinness from the thousands of potential button pushers. Great choice, Mr. McGuinness. For that shining, Above & Beyond moment you made Ms. McConnell feel like a “King For A Day.”
5. Good things always come in threes
Considering all of the welcomed promotion and social media push as the countdown to the celebration of ABGT100 progressed, we knew we were in for something special and something quite profound. (And the recent announcement of their latest album due out in January only fueled the hype.) It would still be optimistic and too-good-to-be-true to assume that all three members of Above & Beyond would be performing together even for this celebratory event (and even if they announced it). But when the trio prominently appeared on the front edge of the stage at the inception of their set holding a banner of their easily recognized Group Therapy color ribbons fashioned into a cityscape, there was no introduction necessary. The thunderous applause and cheer practically obliterated their announcement, “This is our new single ‘We’re All We Need,’” as they dashed behind the decks to kick off their set. The captivated audience was floored as they embraced the rule of three.
Images by Rukes