Our Eat Sleep Rave Repeat days may be distant memories, but whenever legit big-beat trailblazer Norman Cook (stage name Fatboy Slim) hits our shores it’s time to dust off those happy pants and Acupuncture Beefer trainers to prepare for a good old-fashioned rave.
Early arrivers are treated to Icarus – cousins Ollie Bown and Sam Britton – who present a set of brilliantly deconstructed tunes. As various elements from tracks such as Snap!’s Rhythm Is a Dancer roll out, a fun game of Name That Tune ensues. A version of Bob Marley’s Is This Love that showcases a female vocalist enters the mix, barely recognisable until we enjoy a collective a-ha moment mid-dance. Well played, lads!
A Pacha, Ibiza T-shirt is spotted in the crowd and it seems drop o’clock has already come and gone for several punters we spy gurning just as much as they would if they were sucking on extreme-sour warheads.
Opening with the Bee Gees’ You Should Be Dancing and dressed in stylish suits, 2manyDJs are a slick operation. The Belgian brothers, David and Stephen Dewaele, only occasionally wear their headphones – who needs ‘em? Show-offs! Those seated in the Bowl jump up and race down the aisles into the front section for a proper boogie. When the incandescent Blind by Hercules & Love Affair blends seamlessly into Blur’s banger, Girls & Boys, we’re in heaven! Then a snippet of New Order’s Blue Monday morphs into Tame Impala’s Let It Happen – pure bliss. There’s no rest for our dancing feet as the belters continue to drop, back-to-back: Shakedown’s At Night, Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) and Technotronic’s Pump Up the Jam – oh, Lordy!
Electric vibrations are palpable as lights dim, a giant yellow smiley face decorates the giant screen and we prepare for the one and only Fatboy Slim. “Ladies and gentlemen, and children of the sun, get ready for an interstellar experience from the ninth wonder, the fifth element, the first amendment, the fourth Beatle – they know what is what, but they don’t know what is what…” – quite the intro!
Cook wastes no time behind his console, slamming down relentless, bombastic beats with aplomb. “If you came to party, let me see your hands up!” – we need no encouragement and immediately push the sky away in unison. “Fatboy Slim is f-cking in heaven” – sure looks that way! Cook’s beaming up there. His enthusiasm and the obvious joy he gets from DJing is contagious as teases of Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, the stomping Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Heads Will Roll waft in and out of the mix, delighting our ears.
“Cook wastes no time behind his console, slamming down relentless, bombastic beats with aplomb.”
Star 69’s lyrics are tweaked slightly at one point to become, “They know what is house, but they don’t know what is house,” and then Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You makes us swoon while a barrage of different coloured pingers dance across the giant screen and Cook brandishes double air horns – one in each hand – overhead.
A close-up of Shaun Ross, who features on Duke Dumont’s belter Red Light Green Light, graces the screen as said track enters the mix and we obey his every command. Stop. GO! Then we enjoy a video package featuring famous faces that morph into one another, somewhat like Michael Jacksons’s Black or White video. We identify some dead legends and pay our respects while we dance: recently deceased Monty Python founder Terry Jones, Bowie and then Prince becomes a giant, dazzling mirror ball. “But now I’ve gone and thrown it aaaaall away” – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody hits the spot. (RIP Freddie.)
A segment of Greta Thunberg’s powerful United Nations speech adds poignance to proceedings (“People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money!”) and her spoken words (“Right here, right now”) are sampled within Fatboy Slim’s song of the same name. Cook comes out from behind his console to drum up a clap-along. Then a countdown displays on the screen, Cook helicopters a towel overhead before flinging it skyward with the banging bass drop as an image of our planet in peril spins on the huge LED screen.
A snatch of The Rockafeller Skank flows into a ravetastic laser display. As we all clap overhead in unison singing, “Everything is beautiful/ Alright/ Everything is beautiful/ Tonight,” the logos of our fine nation’s various firefighting organisations are displayed on the screen. As The Rockafeller Skank slows down and fades out, we’re left with just the image of Cook’s dexterous hands – in close-up – on the screen. Then a picture of the coverstar from Fatboy Slim’s You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby album – reclining on a red velvet chaise lounge wearing nothing but sunnies, a bracelet and a swathe of gold fabric to protect his modesty (also with trademark ciggie in his left hand) – appears on the LED screen.
Revellers stand around looking stunned; slowly coming back down to earth. Having busted out some ’90s dance moves that haven’t been utilised since peak doof period, we decide a massage is probably in order this week.
Fatboy Slim never disappoints. We have to praise him, like we should.