Fantastic Fantazia

Braehead Arena

January 27th 2007

Live Review

The Braehead Arena in Glasgow is usually the venue for various sporting events and exhibitions and is part of a huge shopping and leisure complex which, because of its design and layout, can be adapted to suit almost any purpose, from ice-skating to trade exhibitions to concerts.

Which is just as well because last Saturday, 27th January, it was the venue for the latest of the highly successful and extremely popular Fantazia series of large-scale parties celebrating the best in dance music old and new.

This is, I think, the third sell-out Fantazia party held at this venue though Fantazia as a brand has been around since the early 1990's and has gone from strength to strength with every event staged.

The reason for this success is, quite simply, the music.

In many respects putting up to 50 DJs, MCs and live acts together in 3 arenas playing and performing the best Old Skool, Hardcore and Classic Club tracks available is a no-brainer.. It cannot fail to attract an audience, because there is a receptive and knowledgeable audience out there just gagging for it.

They know what they like and will travel any distance and pay almost any amount of money to experience the special pleasure you can get from being part of a crowd of like minded people all intent on doing nothing for the following few hours except have the very best time they can.

The rise and rise of clubs, club culture and dance music since those first tentative hip hop tracks of the mid to late 1980's and the illegal raves they spawned has ensured that there are millions of people ranging in age from their mid teens to their mid 40's (and beyond) who have dance music as an integral part of their lives and for whom events such as Fantazia are seen as must attend parties.

However; success is not guaranteed by any means and there are a host of factors that can turn this simple formula: Great DJ's+Great Music+Suitable Venue=Perfect Event, into a disaster.

In the case of Fantazia, though the formula works because the people behind it are not just in it for the money as most other large organisations appear to be, judging by the contempt they often appear to have for their target audience.

James and Charles Perkins have over 15 years experience of staging these parties and their love of the music and the respect and consideration they have for the people they hope to attract is apparent in every aspect of the organisation and planning that goes into each party.

And this one was no exception.

With Frankie Bones and Lenny D headlining the main, Old Skool, arena alongside Bass Generator, Scott Brown, Altern-8, and Stu Allan alongside MC Robbie Dee the capacity crowd were bombarded with one brilliant tune and live performance after another.

There was a special a guest appearance by the Legendary MC Scratchmaster Techno Kid who did a special back to back with Robbie Dee. Unfortunately Hixxy's plane was delayed and he was unable to get there in time and Storm was a no show.

There was an excellent laser display (a little underused I thought) and a fantastic sound system, and the tiered seating around the dance floor provided a very welcome respite for tired dancing feet.

Unusually for an event of this size (there were around 7,000 people there) queueing for the toilets was almost non-existent and service at the bars was fast and efficient.

The idea of selling tickets, which you then exchange for drinks at the bar, is an inspired one that I saw here for the first time. Other party organisers would do well to copy this, as there are few things more frustrating than having to queue for 20 minutes every time you want a drink.

Hardcore til I Die was found in Arena 2 where Hixxy and MC Storm, Tommy Knocker, DJ Unknown, Sharkey, Gammer, Vibes & MC Livelee, DJ Smurf, Pulsator, The Doctor and DJ Twista were pumping out the best hardcore you'll find anywhere.

My only thought on this is that the marquee could have been bigger as it did tend to get very cramped and crowded in there. Not that the quality of the music was effected in any way if the amount of energy on display from the HTID fans was anything to go by. I'm very much looking forward to being at HTID In The Sun in June.

The much smaller House Classics Arena featured Graeme Park (who played a blinding set in the VIP Arena at Creamfields 2007). Also dropping clubbers favourites old and new were: Jon Pleased Women, Michael Kilkie, Kris Keegan, Jon Mancini, Robbo, Lisa Unique, Janie Mac and Keaty.

Graeme Park is a personal favourite of mine dating back many years and Jon Mancini never fails to please. I was particularly impressed with Janie Mac, though, whom I'd never seen before. I look forward to seeing her play again.

For me the whole night was a perfect combination of planning, thought and execution, but I think a special mention should be given to the audience.

I've rarely seen, in nearly 20 years of clubbing, such a friendly, up for it crowd of clubbers. Apart from a couple of minor incidents there was almost no trouble of any kind, which, considering the number of people there, is a testament to the security staff who were ever present but unobtrusive and the ones I spoke to were polite and helpful. This is rarely the case at other large events I've been to.

Every one I spoke to was happy and smiling and having a great time. In particlular Chris Knox from Glasgow and Gordon Coutts from Dundee who took me under their wings and helped make the night even better for me.

Future Fantazia events are already in the planning stages and you can be sure that Charles and James will pulling out all the stops to ensure that the standards they have strived so hard to achieve over the past years will not be allowed to drop and that Fantazia will continue to be a first class party experience.

Fantastic Fantazia... enough said!

Ian Russell

Site -