- Michael Calfan
- Pep & Rash
There’s a scene in the film of Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus in which Salieri watches Mozart perform various musical party tricks at a masquerade. After dazzling everyone by playing upside-down, hands behind his head, he takes requests. Salieri, in disguise, must keep silent as he watches the young genius cruelly lampoon him and his music.
MARTIN SOLVEIG might not be Mozart, but he is prodigiously talented as a DJ, all-round musician, and showman. His set – in the middle of a bill that transplants his 20-date residency at Ibiza’s Pacha to Arts Club for one night only – is ostensibly a celebration of house music, but Solveig’s dayglo visuals and his slightly porno tache betray his love of classic sounds, particularly disco. He calls it future house, but it’s self-consciously retro.
It’s not this venue’s usual crowd, but it puts the club(bing) in Arts Club for the first time in years. Dropping tunes like Tove Lo’s Habits and Duke Dumont’s The Giver, this show shares its target audience with Capital FM – there’s a lot of love for Major Lazer’s Lean On when it lands. Irrespective of your taste in music, the little French guy behind the decks has a love for pure pop, and it’s infectious.
However, it’s taken a few hours to reach this level of elegance. Upstairs, MYLES remains somewhere in the purgatorial 90s, followed by PEP & RASH. Despite their harder, techno-influenced sound, their set is the same student disco, different decade. It’s well received, but there are too many outrageous samples, and a pace that sees drop after drop without any chance to build on the chaos.
Back in the Theatre, MICHAEL CALFAN spins out a set of deep house (or, at least, deeper than Solveig’s) that’s well paced, but hardly revolutionary. He pulls out his own Nobody Does It Better, which wears its 18 years lightly, but the drops are predictable, and there’s too much basking in adulation that big club DJs are prone to. They pause, revel, and indulge in that raising of arms that’d be onanistic if it didn’t put their hands so far from their crotches.
Not Martin Solveig, though. His set is structured to be unpredictable without disorienting anyone. He keeps them guessing, drawing on a vast library of samples; there’s almost never a straight repeat of any four bars, and the reward is big tunes. He, too, works the crowd. Leaving the drum track shuffling when he comes out in front of his decks, he interacts, face to face, hand to outstretched hand. Then he reaches behind himself and, without looking, without fumbling, sight unseen, releases the fattest, most perfect, most gyratory hit of rich synth brass – a bit like Mozart.