The "Greatest DJ of all time" kicks off the festival's Friday night with a set for the ages
The career of Tijs Michiel Verwest, better known as Tiësto, has had many twists and turns. He started in the ‘90s as Da Joker, putting out chipmunk vocalled gabber. 2005’s ‘Adagio For Strings’ made sure even your mum loved trance. ‘C’Mon’, 2010’s collab with Diplo and Busta Rhyme, sold dance music back to America, kicking off the EDM revolution. And most recently he’s gone pop house. Along the way he’s DJed the Olympics, won a Grammy, sold 36 million albums and been awarded the accolade of ‘The Greatest DJ of All Time’ by Mixmag. It’s an unmatchable CV, but also begs the question: what will he play for his Friday night headline set at Creamfields South?
The answer, it turns out, is everything. With the stage dropping to blackout seconds before he starts, a hip hop-esque intro embraces his reputation, declaring the imminent arrival of a ‘living legend’. With that the spectacle begins, a bomber jacketed silhouette popping up to hold sole command of the giant stage. His early set rattles through giant collabs in a display of star power: the Pulp Fiction-inspired ‘Pump It Louder’ with Black Eyed Peas, ‘Hot In It’ with Charli XCX, the Lafayette Afro Rock Band-sampling ‘Show Me’ with DallasK. Fireworks explode, lasers sweep the sky, giant LED screens flash with golden eagles, F1 cars, lightning bolts, Tiësto’s face.
Mixing tracks for a minute or less, it’s sensory immersion for our ADHD generation, each drop giving way to another. “Are you ready to go back to the rave days?” shouts Tiësto as he quickfires anthems. DJ Jean’s ‘The Launch’ has barely taken off when he switches to a bootleg of Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ and Push’s ‘Universal Nation’, then a spectacularly huge edit of Kid Cudi’s ‘Day ‘n’ Nite’. It’s a serotonin stirring mega-mix, palpably giddy euphoria shown in giant grins everywhere.
“Are you ready for some drum and bass?” is the next rhetorical question (the cheer that goes up a resounding ‘Yes’) taking us to another peak, wubbing bass accompanied by the most flitting light settings. Hard style follows, a nod to his roots. It all ends with ‘Adagio For Strings’, a blissful moment of release. He may swathe himself in hyperbole, but experiencing Tiësto on the big stage is a genuinely hypnotic display of shock and awe. Shapeshifting through decades of dance while staying at the top is something few have achieved. And behind all the razzle dazzle, lies a shrewd operator.