Around three-and-a-half years ago a Dutch DJ/producer by the name of Oliver Heldens earned his break with the release of ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’. The record, which enjoyed phenomenal success in Great Britain debuting at number one in the UK Singles chart, was a classic example of the future house sound which had started to emerge.
Bringing this subgenre, which is a fusion of various styles including garage and deep house, to the forefront of electronic music is something which Heldens played a considerable part in. Since then the Rotterdam-born musician has become one of the biggest stars in house, playing major festivals all around the world and securing residencies at the likes of Ushuaia in Ibiza.
When he took to the decks at Manchester’s Albert Hall you could see the intrigue by the direction Heldens decided to take during his performance. There will have been those who were expecting a melodic style of house to define his time in one of the city’s most vibrant arenas for dance music.
That preconception is likely to stem from just how prolific Heldens has been under his first and most popular eponymous alias. However there won’t be as many people who were aware of the Dutchman’s decision to also channel his fondness for a more bassline-driven sound. There has been much to savour about this creative endeavour under his other moniker HI-LO.
One of the biggest delights has been the way in Heldens has continued to whet his musical appetite in both styles. This was a big reason why it felt like so much of a wondrous journey watching him at work.
There were epic moments when he played well-known hits like ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ as a sea of confetti rained down on the Albert Hall but there was also an overwhelming joy as he explored the world of techno. I was still pleasantly surprised to see just how contrasting the two halves of his set were. The temptation could’ve been to resonate with people by simply selecting all the radio-friendly records but Heldens wasn’t afraid to test the boundaries.
Confessing that he is a ‘big lover of funk, rhythm and bass’, it is quite refreshing to see that the 22-year-old is maintaining as much variety as possible during his sets. A lot of acts are only too keen to disrupt the normal flow and actively segment different sounds with each drop but Heldens was more interested in the flow.
Observing such an honesty about his creative appetite made for an exhilarating show and one which left me once again full of admiration for his decision to pursue what some may perceive as left field musical avenues.
Photo courtesy of Oliver Heldens
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