2/19/15 – House of Blues

“This is Boston. This is heaven.”

The glow of these words on a giant LCD screen drew cheers from the audience as Above & Beyond‘s thunderous music blasted through the House of Blues speakers. Pushing up his glasses, Paavo Siljamäki grinned widely and continued typing on the computer in front of him. Anyone passing his lanky figure on the streets would brush him off as a coding TA at MIT or Harvard rather than one-third of the English progressive-trance supergroup Above & Beyond.

Next to him, Tony McGuinness manned the decks, twisting knobs, making heart hands, and pointing to various audience members clawing to get across the barrier and up on stage. Dressed cutely in a grey Patriots shirt and thick glasses with an anchor-studded white bandanna wrapped around his neck, he looked more like a high school chemistry teacher than a renowned global DJ.

Constantly placing in the DJ Mag Top 100 DJ’s poll, the supergroup’s talent and knack for producing quality records is reflected in their dedicated fans. You know your music’s good when people in bikinis fit for Miami brave negative wind chill to come dance at your sold-out show.

Gazing down into the audience from the stage, it was a sea of faces and signs. At first glance it looked like a protest rather than a concert; all the posters waving around made the crowd look like a moving, colored checkerboard. Everyone was dying to be chosen to “push the button,” when a lucky fan is brought up on stage behind the decks to drop a buildup into one of Above & Beyond’s anthems. Creative, artistic messages of every kind aimed at being chosen filled the venue. Blick must have made a year’s salary in just one night.

Despite the fact that fellow group member Jono Grant was missing, Paavo and Tony still managed to entertain the crowd with a mixture of songs off their newly released album, “We Are All We Need,” and classic Above & Beyond oldies. Everyone sang along to tracks like “Alone Tonight” and “Sun and Moon,” throwing their hands in the air, closing their eyes, and synchronizing the sing-along to make the voice of a thousand sound like one.

Up on stage, the duo took turns with one member mixing and the other dancing around in the back. Tony bobbed his head and rocked his shoulders while controlling the decks, while behind him Paavo twirled around gracefully, a smile never leaving his face. He energetically clapped his hands and at times brought them together as if in prayer. When it was his turn to mix, Tony too would then dance around on stage and guzzle Heinekens, a carefree look on his face. The whole atmosphere was full of joy, euphoria, and a sense of togetherness. Echoing the name of their newly released album in their on stage presence, Above & Beyond effortlessly shed the ethnic, gender, and age differences of the crowd to unify them through their emotional, inspirational music.

The best part of the night was the encore, in which “Love Is Not Enough” slowly played through the speakers and a cascade of confetti rained down upon the audience. Paavo and Tony came down from their thrones and into the photo pit, showing their appreciation for their fans. Starting on opposite ends of the stage, the two performers slowly took their time hugging fans, shaking hands, and taking pictures with anyone who asked. Signing tickets, body parts, shirts, and shoes, Paavo and Tony proved that apart from their ability to make amazing music, they also have good hearts and go out of their way to give back to fans. This classy move only made the audience love them as performers even more.

Additional photos from the show can be found here.

A Thing Called Love: Above & Beyond
Pros
  • Showed their love for Boston
  • Inspiring visuals and use of confetti
  • Came down into crowd to mingle with fans
Cons
  • No spoken interaction with crowd
  • Somewhat stagnant and non-dynamic set
  • Felt like live playback of their album
8Overall Score

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