Guy J @ Chinese Laundry, Sydney (16/06/2012)

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The thought of going out on a cold, wet and generally miserable Saturday night in the middle of winter can often have limited appeal. Sometimes though, you can’t help but think that the effort is going to be worth it. One hopes so, anyway.

It had been a while since I’d been down to Chinese Laundry, and while the irony of a guest-list queue longer than the general admission line was lost on few, getting out of the cold was a relatively painless experience. Inside, there were treats aplenty.

The Laundry room was playing host to a rather excitable crowd who were well into the swing of things, despite it not even being midnight. Hitting the Cave, Rodskeez and Tones had made the cold weather a distant memory, warming the room perfectly. That said, the sense of excitement in the room was palpable and truth be told, there was one man they had come to see: Guy J.

Almost twelve months to the date since his last visit, the anticipation for this night had been strong since the tour announcement. A little after midnight, the Israeli dynamo stepped up to the plate and proceeded to demonstrate once again why his is a star that’s rapidly rising.

Production wise, there is little doubt of his supreme talent. His debut album Esperanza on Bedrock was nothing short of stunning. His more recent offering 1000 Words with the likes of Azimuth, Easy As Can Be and of course Lamur , is music to make you melt. But on Saturday, he would show us that together with some amazing production skills, the Belgian-based whiz also knows how to put a set together.

The first hour just glided on by as he laid the perfect foundation to take us wherever he pleased. The crowd was lapping it up and loving every minute of it, and as he launched into his yet-to-be-released but already brilliant and fist punching Lost and Found … friends and strangers alike were all enamoured by the music. An amazing, up-for-it crowd took every beat in its stride and with plenty of room to move, hands were in the air and there was dance-floor carnage aplenty. It was one of those sets where you looked to the dude next to you – someone you’ve never met before – and you both just nod your head, acknowledging that you’re experiencing something pretty special.

A few days before the gig, a decision was made to move up and coming Sydney producer/DJ Walden from the Cave into the main room, and give Guy J a few more hours to work with. That, my friends, is the kind of decision that needs an ‘A+’ attached to it post haste. Back in 2011, I gave Laundry props for sorting out what was otherwise going to be Hernan-less night of the Cattaneo variety in the middle of a commercial airline strike. This masterstroke spawned an even better result.

While Walden made the Laundry room his own, with his electro-house heavy sound appealing to many, it is also fair to say he pumps out a very different sound to what those in the Cave had come for. With that difference in taste comes a difference in crowd, perhaps even a younger crowd still finding its feet musically. Walden offers a more commercial friendly sound that has a big following and the Laundry room was perfect for it.

Back in the Cave however, it was a very different affair as Guy kept pushing everyone’s buttons just right. The warmth of his melodies combined with the lush vibrancy of his sound and made for a set to truly remember. Armed with a steadily growing back-catalogue of captivating productions, he created something truly special. More new tunes were gracefully tossed our way: from the almost hypnotic melody of his new remix (and set to be a tune of 2012) of the Circulation classic Turquoise, to the sultry house of his Tomorrow collaboration with Miriam Vega, it was all exquisite and he captivated us.

As the inevitable approached, he finished it off with a triumvirate of tunes that could’ve easily read like someone’s Guy J wish list: Fixation, Pathos before wrapping it up with Fantasy Reality. For fans of either Guy J himself, or the progressive genre more broadly, the night would have been truly a delight. I similarly have no doubt he would have won a few new fans too.

Guy J recently stated that Chinese Laundry was one of his top five favourite venues worldwide. For a small venue playing on the international stage, that’s no mean feat. For me, and on a personal note, his set last Saturday goes into my top 5 – and does so with a bullet – such was the sheer quality of music and the enjoyment that came with it. My only remaining hope is that he comes back. Soon.