Above & Beyond lead a sold-out Forum crowd on a two-and-a-half hour journey
Above & Beyond are one of the rare groups you don’t grow tired of seeing. Every performance is so much more than just a live concert, but a communal gathering of like-minded individuals. Last Friday, Above & Beyond kicked off their brand new We Are All We Need tour with a sold-out show from The Forum in Los Angeles. To a sea of 15,000+ fans, Paavo and Jono commanded a two-and-a-half hour set of trance and progressive house.
It’s no secret that Above & Beyond have fostered one of the most loyal fan bases around. You see it in everything from the number of signs that fans create for each show to the plethora of Anjuna gear being sported by those in attendance. It’s this kind of dedication that lends itself to Above & Beyond’s unique live experience. More than any other artist, their shows feel like a direct dialogue between fan and performer. Every song is a message to the crowd; every transition yields a roaring celebration in response. This kind of push-and-pull dynamic is embodied by their on-screen communication with the audience. Little messages like “might as well live for today” and “you never know when your time runs out” go a long way in establishing a sense of connection with the crowd.
On this particular night, the Anjuna-mob was out in full force. A quick glance around the behemoth stadium — the former home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kings — yielded feelings of awe and respect. Every row was lined to the brim with fans ecstatic in anticipation of the arrival of the group. As the trails of Mat Zo’s last track petered out, a silence buzzed over The Forum. It was time for a bit of group therapy.
The performance began with “Quieter Is Louder,” a fitting opener as the gentle piano arpeggio elicited a stadium-sized response. As the intro segued into “We Are All We Need,” the audience was perfectly on cue as Zoë Johnston’s vocals took the spotlight. These moments of thousand-voiced choruses became a recurring theme throughout the night. From “On My Way To Heaven” to “Thing Called Love,” the tide of voices would nearly overtake the song itself as the audience roared in unison.
The entire two and a half hours felt like one extended celebration. With each successive track, the crowd became increasingly more enthused. While early highlights included Pierce Fulton’s “Kuaga” and Jason Ross’s “Atlas,” as the night went on, Above & Beyond slowly opted for harder and more intense offerings. By the final 30 minutes, the beat must have been close to 138 as the group brought out a more classic trance sound to The Forum.
Perhaps what struck me most was not the range of music on the night, but the diversity of the crowd itself. Jono Grant substantiated the idea in an interview with Fox 11 Los Angeles. “It’s crazy the way you get a lot of older people going now as well,” he said. “It’s just not young people.. it’s really sort of transcending age.” Ultimately, that’s what sets Above & Beyond apart. Their music is not catered towards any specific demographic, but rather humanity itself. The philosophy they preach is centered around universal principles of love and compassion: things any human can inherently relate to. The result is one of the most spiritual and therapeutic gatherings in dance music: an experience we won’t surely get tired of soon.
Catch Above & Beyond on their ongoing We Are All We Need Tour.
Photo Credit: Rukes