The idea was to ‘EMBRACE’ several different instruments and sounds, and incorporate them into my sound.
– Armin Van Buuren
Three years later after visiting the Bay to present his last show, Armin Only Intense, van Buuren has returned to the area on February 3rd with his biggest production to date, the sixth edition of Armin Only (Embrace) that received a high-profile world premiere at Amsterdam’s 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome about a year ago.
PLUR Baes crew was given the opportunity to witness an extravagant, exhausting the senses in its attempts to reconcile van Buuren’s increasingly diverse recorded repertoire with the length and breadth of his trance DJ sets.
Since he found his first US Billboard success in 2013’s commercially minded ‘This is What It Feels Like’; Van Buuren’s sonic palette has been expanding. In 2015, Embrace LP incorporated everything from jazz to hip-hop to rock acts in the mix. Most of the featured acts have recently generously signed up to devote large chunks of the next 18 months for his accompanying world tour.
Things kicked off at 7 pm with the somewhat incongruous title track. It was a seven minute, cinematic welcoming salvo featuring prodigious jazz trumpeter, Eric Vloeimans blowing huskily over rising tempos. The mood sufficiently jacked as the next up chart-topping rapper, Mr. Probz took the microphone and opened a sing-along single Another You.
Armin is left on stage alongside the dancers and smoke. He pumped the crowd with his trademark onslaught of eutrophic trance for straight 5 hours. At key moments, he dialed things back down for more guest stars; Cimo Frankel’s banger Strong Ones and Angel Taylor’s darker make it Right Roll fairly naturally into the set. Afterward, Bully songs shine on current single Free-fall.
These foreign editions have the potential to endear a casual crowd. Van Buuren has insisted that is not a prepared show but a DJ set, which evolves from night to night. The bulk of the evening was also reserved for Van Buuren to drive the show solo by doing what he does best and playing without interruption. There is an irresistible force to Van Buuren’s brand of blissed out, hand-waving trance.
After four hours, and many bursts of confetti, the official Armin Only production is wrapped in the expected haze of strobes and smoke. Although the real highlight came next, the 40-year-old Van Buuren then moved to the center of the arena for a no frills, hour-long vinyl set. It was a relentless return to his harder, purer roots whose aim is to satisfy the faithful.