SHM are here to save the world again as they close out the festival's Sunday night
Last year’s debut album, Paradise Again, signalled the proper return of Swedish House Mafia, aka Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso. Having risen out of the 2000’s electro scene, stirring in elements of trance and pop to forge an unstoppable sound that took over America, by 2012 they’d reached their high water mark, splitting with a final show at 2013’s Ultra Festival in Miami. A trio whose sometime bro energy reflected Angello and Ingrosso growing up together, Miami’s WMC week always felt like their spiritual home. So it was fitting when, in 2018, Ultra’s twentieth anniversary brought them back together for the first time, planting the seed for Sunday night’s headline gig at Creamfields South.
A snare roll introduces them to the Arc Stage, strobes building to such a pitch you wish there was a live smart metre on its own giant screen. The trio announce themselves to huge roars, then the unmistakable squeaks of Roman Flugel’s ‘Geht’s Noch?’ get the party started. A track that’s almost twenty years old, it’s a history lesson in when SHM were forged. And with Angello and Ingrosso both recently turning forty, they seem in nostalgic mood. Double 99’s ‘RIP Groove’ nods to the ‘90s, as does a blast of Rowetta’s ‘Reach Out’ before the organs of Robin S’s ‘Show Me Love’ teases another classic. The group’s Sting-sampling ‘Redlight’ draws it back to the present, reaching into their most recent output.
The showmanship hasn’t faded. Steve Angello is frequently up on the decks, mic in hand, at one point theatrically demanding bigger flames from the fire cannons. What follows lights up the sky, ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning,’ the shout coming from behind us as the scent of fuel drifts through the air. And the hits still land. In context, ‘One’ sounds every bit the stepping stone from club electro to festival stages and collaborating with Pharell. ‘Leave The World Behind’ is enticing, end-of weekend escapism. The John Martin sung ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ evokes a crowd-wide swell of emotion.
It all ends with the epic ‘Save The World’, with its refrain of “Who’s going to save the world tonight?” Back like some kind of musical Avengers, one suspects the unspoken reply to this is “Swedish House Mafia”. If so, they’ve got quite a job on their hands.