The first thing that struck me about the Guetta concert was the sheer number of pretty, young, skinny things that had come, bravely totting numbers reserved for nightclubs far away from mothers’ concerns.
I was amazed. At all the gigs I’ve been to, I’ve never had this much girl company. The only thing that outshouted the speakers this time, was a chorus of squeals. I did not worry about leering creepy men. I did not worry about sweaty armpits and hard-stoned head-bobbers keeling over. I did not worry about my now-inferior smartphone getting whacked out of my back pocket. Why would I? When next to me, was a barely-sprouted-upper-lip boy taking shamefully crisp photographs on his Lumia. Yes, the 800.
This gig was bewildering from the word go.
My first brush was a tee we saw at the gates – an adequately censored phrasing of Guetta’s contribution to parlance with co-conspirators MoS, Fuck Me I’m Famous. Needless to say, sported by a suspect-looking uncle.
We’d arrived right in time. The LEDs lit up, screaming Guetta’s latest album title – and motto – NOTHING BUT THE BEAT. An unshaven, agreeably disheveled, and adorably dirty-straw blond Guetta made an entry. (cue squealing girls – and boys that did surprisingly accurate impressions of said squealing girls)
A few vague teases later, came a mashup of one of my favourite-of-all-time Guetta tracks, Love is Gone, and one of my latest shame-numbers, Little Bad Girl. It was delicious. And it didn’t last long enough. It didn’t even go anywhere. Before long, it trailed off into an unfortunately unyielding foreplay of Love Don’t Let Me Go.
The lineup that followed was pretty much a repeat of that sequence. Snatches of vocals from hit songs, blended beautifully with so-much-deja-vu riffs. Everything diffused before any serious boogie. It looked like Guetta had basically opened up all the channels of all his songs, and had gone apeshit with recurrent patterns in his discography.
Musically, mathematically, you were genius Guetta. But I’m sorry, I think nightclubs here have made me expect differently.
First, the sound setup was not noisy enough. I think the cheapest shortcut to being overwhelming, is to be loud. The setup just wasn’t. We tried three different positions in the crowd – center, off-center, even far back, and the acoustics weren’t hitting any spots.
Guetta, I know it was your first time here. But you should’ve done your homework. You should’ve first seen what your protégés here do with your music. They play you, your three minutes due. They play you, intro, crescendo, and cut apologetically out of your outro, into some undeserving Pitbull.
I don’t know if it’s a problem of song rights with the artists you collaborate with. But I was dying to hear what first got me hooked on to you – your 2004-dated dirty bit with JD Davis, The World is Mine. I’m astonished you picked your scream fest with Nicki Minaj (Turn Me On), over your feel-good bigger-hit with Rihanna (Who’s That Chick).
The strobe-lights and LED work was impressive. The console was mind-blowingly well-done for a space to be occupied by just one man. LED motifs paid a quick tribute to magnetic tapes (yay!) before moving eventually into Pokéball-looking turntables. The text work was beautiful. Guetta’s famous heart popped over and over (silhouetting barely-old oddly-necking couples). My favourite was the play in the “A” from the typography of his name on his album covers. Which, in hindsight, strongly resembles Free Mason symbolism on the Dollar (I’m not under influence, I promise). Every effort had gone into making Guetta look like an Electronica Messiah. And if you were watching, it probably worked.
For me, this was a coming-of-age concert as a Guetta fan – and as a Dance music nut. DJs are not meant to be experienced second-hand, at the scratches and whims of Ladies’ Nights specialists. Guetta, Live, outside the confines of his studio, someone else’s console, or even YouTube, actually has more personality. Something I’d like to witness in an amphitheater, not a Palace Grounds. I had no idea Guetta had touches of Trance in his fingers. Or inclinations towards quiet solos, until today. Even the way he faded in and out of bridges when his fans sang (horribly off-key), had an odd Guetta-fingerprint.
I suppose this is what a Guetta experience is like. Mostly an EDM jam-session. Not necessarily the House party that I’m used to crashing.
But I’m not writing him off. Not until I watch him at an MoS night.
For now, bring on Deadmau5.