For some it was a day of unfathomable sadness. For others, it was a sign-off to the next chapter of a musical legacy that transcends the ranks of the great universal Dance explosion. But whatever the context taken for the ceasefire tour duties of the outfit known fervently as the Swedish House Mafia, the rock star sanctuary of Milton Keynes Bowl played host to the emotional last UK show of this taste making Swedish outfit. With endless speculation surrounding the ins and outs of their decision to stop touring, the star-studded line-up and 60,000-strong crowd made for yet another fine addition to the assorted landmarks conjured by the game saving trio amid their global House onslaught.
Handed the grueling task of kicking off such a formidable event, Axtone’s latest blue-eyed NO_ID four handedly set the tone for unforgettable night. Fresh off the mark from their Ibiza debut alongside the Swede’s at Ushuaïa, the early rising crowds relished in such gems as the duos remix of ‘Leave A Light On’ alongside their own Tech infused hallmarks to persuasively win over their biggest UK crowd to date.
More accustomed to the aforementioned cosmic crowds than most, Fulham residing chart-to-club icon Example was a worthy addition to the otherwise House-rooted line-up of artists. From pop savvy chart-pleasers ‘Stay Awake’ and ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me’ to forthcoming cut ‘Whisper’ alongside AN21 & Max Vangeli, Example’s signature vocal stylings drew a considerable first swell of hysteria while casting a legitimate light of club appeal to the unstoppable British heavyweight in the process.
But for all the energy of Example’s hour of live Electronic power, junior Electro advocate and devoutly tipped newcomer to the new age French throne Madeon was a force hypothesized to shine amid the mixed weather and emotional tides. Dealing in wave upon wave of heavyset Electro with a strong and eclectic backbone of nostalgic perseverance, not even a brief technical blunder could counter the positive noise that the pristine young artist aptly beckoned. With insatiable breakthrough offering ‘Icarus’ and his forthcoming single ‘Finale’ eagerly identified by the surging crowds at the bowl, the talent young Frenchman entertained a lot of current fanatics while making several thousand new friends in the process with his divine turntable wit.
As the proud protégé of Sebastian Ingrosso and one of the most definitive young Swedish talents to break into the universal spectrum, Alesso’s transition from club connoisseur to arena supporting artist has been sensational. Striking off this deserving spot on the line-up with raw adrenaline fuelled progressive House and soaring through his affinity of high-end remixes and the sought after ID with REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’, forthcoming studio mark ‘Years’ and the climaxing energy of ‘Calling (Lose My Mind)’ sold the crowd to his renowned talent while utilizing the unsuspecting sunshine that crept across the bowl throughout his set. With a forthcoming spot on Madonna’s UK tour, the young Swede used the end of his heavyweight peers live legacy to set in motion his own newfound association with the high end of European Dance music.
Despite sporting the enthusiasm of stubborn teenager compared to his enigmatic Swedish forerunner, the appearance of Scotland’s essential Electro Pop advocate was not one taken light heartedly by the chart-bending producer. In a set catered closely to his own infamous crossover exploits and personal re-edits, his utilization of the overwhelming energy between the 60,000 strong crowd was enough to forgive his lack of physical penchant. Between the chart-worthy crowd pleasers and his latest single alongside Example, Harris bottled the energy of the widespread Dance explosion with little room for complaints from either end of the spectrum.
For all the stamina established by the formidable collection of artists at Milton Keynes Bowl, Pete Tong’s contributions fell surprisingly short given his second-to-last spot on the bill. Dealing almost exclusively in flat Tech vibes with the occasional throwback to the Swede’s earlier days and Pryda’s powerful forthcoming single ‘Everyday’, the thinning crowd and undisputable lull in morale that surrounded the set failed to reflect his otherwise gleaming reputation as the ambassador to British Dance music.
But none of that mattered by the time Steve Angello, Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso took to the stage to give their intense UK following the send-off they deserved. This was not a night of overextended goodbye speeches or transient notes of woe, but a formal musical sign-off for a country that has proven the epicenter of the hysteria that has cloaked the Swedish House Mafia’s four-year reign upon European House Music. Launching into ‘Greyhound’ to a firm heroes welcome, the next two-hours would see the syndicated House gang unhinge the hands of time to blast through an arsenal of modern gems, stone cold classics and exclusive crowd pleasers alike with the authority of the lion’s share. Sporting a mixture of emotions throughout the landmark appearance, the premier their next collective single ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ proved an uplifting and optimistic notion that while the Swedish House Mafia moniker may not have plans to touchdown on the British soil again, their genre-defining studio work has made no such promises as yet. Painting the night sky with enough pyrotechnics, lasers and prancing visual illusions to put the Vegas skyline on stand-by, their finale display was not only an exciting showcase, but a beacon to the 21st century Dance explosion at its most sincere.
In an apt post-event statement, the trio suggested: ‘There are no words to describe what happened yesterday at Milton Keynes Bowl’. There are infact one thousand words of praise that could follow their UK finale, but none that could do as much justice as their united enthusiasm has done for global Dance music. One thing was certainly encapsulated by the 60,000 strong crowd that made history alongside the definitive European outfit: They came united, they raved like there was no tomorrow and the UK will never stop loving the meticulous dons of Swedish House music.
SHM will play Ushuia every Wednesday throughout the summer and Stockholm’s Friends Arena 22, 23 & 24 November. For more information visit the Swedish House Mafia Official Website.