After a fatal fall in 2016 while headlining A State of Trance 750 in The Netherlands, many thought Paul van Dyk would never return behind the decks. His road to recovery was arduous, grueling, and measured. Eventually, the Trance legend reemerged stronger and revitalized by the determination to resume music production and touring. Since his tragic accident, Paul van Dyk has hitherto played several festivals, clubs, and released 3 albums. His most recent record, Guiding Light, saw him embark on a North American tour in support of it. Inevitably, OneEDM was present at his Tampa, FL show on Feb. 21, 2020 and this is how it went down.
Held at The Ritz in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, our chilly Florida evening began with a short wait to enter the venue. We made our way to the adjoining room where house music was being played by the first opening act. This was a mellow way to set the tone of the night’s events as more patrons started to filter in. About 45 minutes thereafter, word spread that the main room was open.
We made a hasty dash and settled to the front of the stage. Overflowing with excitement, we were determined not to lose our vantage point by the other guests. In the mix was the second opening act, spinning Progressive House and Techno. To his credit, it was an impressive set which featured tracks from i_o, Pryda, and Yotto.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man
The music faded in unison with the lights once 12:30 am struck. Less than a minute later, a tall silhouette emerged from the darkness and briskly made its way to the center of the stage. A soft white light shone directly down on the person nestled between two MacBooks and synthesizers. Cheers, screams, whistles, and applauses pierced the darkness to reveal a warm smile on the face of the legend, Paul van Dyk.
He seemed happy to be there, but not as happy as everyone in attendance. With one arm fully outstretched, he gracefully navigated between his laptops and the mixer. This marked the commencement of what would be an enthralling set. Right out the gates, Paul started with a frenetic opening track. Its beginning was a reverberating buildup of melody and synths. Quickly, the euphony of sounds blossomed into a driving, high-octane beat intermingled with a solid bassline. This was Uplifting Trance at its finest!
His subsequent selections were in the vein of this style and everyone was thoroughly enjoying it. With a masterful stroke of brilliance that only few DJs can do, he changed the tempo with a smooth and silky transition. Paul ventured into Psy-Trance territory and blasted “Galaxy,” his collaboration with Vini-Vici, also featured on Guiding Light.
The unmistakable syncopation and rhythm of Psy elicited screams and cheers from everyone, underscoring the recent rise in popularity of the seminal Trance subgenre. Another delight of Paul van Dyk’s set was his inclusion of the old Sander van Doorn single, “Grasshopper,” which was a great throw-back circa 2007. Everything came full-circle as he reverted to the driving 140+ BPM of Uplifting Trance, and closed on an electrifying high-note.
Paul’s guiding light shines
DJs in the business as long as Paul van Dyk are expected to have sets that are well-rounded and balanced. His set in Tampa was no exception, and it left everyone with a pronounced sense of musical gratification. It was solid and impeccable! Uplifting Trance was the primary focus, but included forays into Psy and Tech. We met fans who didn’t see Paul van Dyk in years, and they were superfluous on how outstanding his track selections were.
One highlight in particular was his popular “Music Rescues Me” song from the eponymous 2018 record. Those in the front row, myself included, sang along to the riveting chorus, many with eyes closed and arms pointed skyward – “All the stars and planets are aligned. Your music rescues me. Your music rescues me, again…”
Fittingly poetic, considering what Paul had to endure and overcome in order to continue producing music and touring again. As expected, he played a Trance-laden set that was well-rounded and high-energy. In doing so, Paul van Dyk shone a bright light in the hearts of those present during this leg of his Guiding Light tour.