The Warehouse Project - Welcome To The Warehouse
Saturday 27th September 2014
To say that the Warehouse Project has become a bit of a behemoth since first opening its doors in 2006 is somewhat of an understatement. In the eight years that have followed Warehouse Project has played host to some of the biggest names in dance music: from Aphex Twin to Chic, Basement Jaxx to Richie Hawtin. It’s been a remarkable success story - one which has allowed the Warehouse Project empire to expand significantly year-on-year - a move to a dramatically larger venue in Trafford, Manchester’s annual Parklife festival and interests in festivals in Croatia are just part of this. As a result it was slightly surprising when Warehouse Project announced plans to scale back in 2014 by relocating to their spiritual home in Store Street.
Located directly underneath Manchester Piccadilly station, the first obvious difference between Store Street and the Trafford venue used for the previous two years is size. Store Street is far from small but in comparison to Victoria Warehouse it almost seems intimate. There are two rooms rather than three and it’s in Room One where I began my night.
Jackmaster has been a busy man this summer, completing a season in Ibiza and holding down a weekly residency at XOYO in Shoreditch. His London obligations meant that the Numbers head honcho was on opening duties for the first three hours tonight and it was certainly unusual to see such an in-demand DJ play to a half-empty room. Nevertheless the Glaswegian is a selector who earned his stripes by playing warm-up sets so it was unsurprising that he proved particularly adept in this situation – using minimal tribal cuts from Villalobos and Carl Craig to deftly build the crowd’s energy levels. The final hour saw the crowd swell considerably and Jackmaster was happy to go with this, selecting more direct tracks to suit the occasion before finally culminating with Prince’s timeless Controversy. A late programming change saw Leon Vynehall swap places with Ben UFO and Pearson Sound (the Hessle Audio boys’ flight from Paris had been cancelled as a result of Air France strikes). Vynehall didn’t seemed phased by this and oscillated between disco-tinged efforts such as Tito Wun’s The Way U Do It, euphoric techno and a smattering of his own productions including the stellar Butterflies.
Detroit legend Carl Craig followed and his set was indicative of the tech house sound which the Planet E boss now tends to anchor his performances around. It was certainly rapturously received by a now-packed main room that were with Craig every step of the way. A personal highlight came when the Detroit veteran unleashed a bonafide classic in The Bells on the room’s rib-shakingly weighty system. This, alongside the inclusion of Never Grow Old (Re-Plant), demonstrated that while Craig’s sound may have progressed in recent years, he still retains a keen eye on both the old and new output coming from the Motor City.
The night was not without some disappointment; the hour or so I caught of Tale of Us felt strangely flat for DJs who are typically lauded for delivering emotionally charged sets. Perhaps they were having an off day but they certainly didn’t hold up favourably when compared to Harri & Domenic whose Room 2 set was lit alite with classic material such as Outlander’s Vamp and Blake Baxter’s Our Luv, with these tracks eliciting the same joyous response on the dancefloor as they have been for years.
The night concluded with a two hour back-to-back set from Hessle Audio co-founders Ben UFO and Pearson Sound. As a pair they have built a reputation on their ability to deliver eclectic yet coherent sets and tonight was no different. Pairing old Ron Trent records alongside Midland’s latest outing Safi and Barnt’s absolutely monstrous Chappell (forthcoming on Joy Orbison’s Hinge Finger label), the pair reiterated their ability to join the dots between seemingly disparate strands of music. A brief foray into garage which concluded the night was a nice nod to the London club scene which played such an important role in the formative stage of their careers. If the rest of the Warehouse Project season can match the musical quality on show tonight then the move back to Store Street will no doubt prove to be a resounding success.
Words by Matt Gibney
Images courtesy of The Warehouse Project