Cream Classical 2017 review

Becca Frankland stepped inside Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral again for more orchestral renditions of the tracks which have shaped Cream's clubbing history.

Becca Frankland

Date published: 25th Apr 2017

Image: Cream

Clubbing institution Cream has been celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It's a momentous milestone for what began as a regular party in Liverpool, now a brand which has expanded to Ibiza and annually hosts its own festival of equally impressive stature along with spin-off tours across the UK. 

Despite the international popularity, its within its hometown city that the response and loyalty excels the rest, an adorning group of fans off all ages with a mutual respect for club classics from across the ages, something which couldn't be more obvious for something like Cream Classical. 

Some would argue that the concept of marrying dance music and an orchestra is tired now, with various and sometimes slightly repetitive club-meets-classical showcases taking place around the UK. However, when you're part of it in such a grandiose building like the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, and it's soundtracked by such music spanning more than two decades in a city where the songs hold so much weight, it's nothing short of electric and indulgently nostalgic. 

With Cream bidding farewell to its spiritual home of Nation at the end of 2015, there's been a musical void which those loyal ravers have been itching to fill. Nullifying that absence becomes considerably easier as well with the location. Whether you're religious or not, the pious space is truly remarkable both inside and out. As the largest cathedral in the whole of the UK and fifth-largest in the world, it's not difficult to imagine the enormity of the building and impact it has on the landscape.

It's almost unbelievable that it's allowed to be used for events of this nature, but everything is done with the utmost respect. Something which is clearly mutual between Liverpool and Cream, with the city's Deputy Mayor presenting the club's founder James Barton with a scroll awarding him ‘Citizen Of Honour’ status and another for ‘Freedom Of The City’ on the Friday evening's Classical party.

We attended on the Saturday, strolling up towards the mammoth building around 8pm. Inside the cathedral's main room, the last of the hazy spring daylight seeped through the windows, with hundreds of rave enthusiasts gawking in awe at the sheer scale and detail the venue boasts. 

After most of the crowd settled, the lights went down and the Philharmonic Orchestra made their way onto the stage alongside the pair behind the track selections - veteran Cream legends K-Klass. Their arrival was met with rousing applause from every set of hands in the room, before they opened with the seminal 'Last Rhythm' by Last Rhythm before tackling their rendition of CeCe Peniston’s club singalong 'Finally'.

Diving into a completely different set list from the one presented last year, this time round we heard the unmistakable 'Strings Of Life' by Rhythim Is Rhythim brought to life by violins and Bizarre Inc's 'Playing With Knives' transformed. Each carefully considered track seamlessly flowed from one another, just like a well executed DJ mix.

Electronic stabs are met with eurphoric vocals for Gat Decor's 'Passion (Do You Want It Right Now)', with the cathedral illuminated by the hypnotising laser installation, beams of light that fill the almost impossibly large space; fuschias, neon greens and bold yellows span the whole height of the room, dancing and twirling in harmony with the music. 

For Barber’s 'Adagio for Strings', an eight-piece choir appeared on a stair ledge at the back of the cathedral, dressed in a classic white uniform, there wouldn't have been a single body without goosebumps as the ensemble harmoniously transformed an instantly recognisable piece of music. Although the song has been covered by dance producers William Orbit and Tiesto in the past, the choice to opt for the original classic piece before melting into 'Dark and Long' by Underworld was definitely the right one, a nice touch of classical music's influence on clubland coming full circle.

K-Klass's own 'Rhythm Is A Mystery' sounded better than ever in the grandiose space, with the sensational vocals and the 90s piano sounds which shaped many a night out present again. Never straying too far from the originals, the arrangements compliment the club tracks, making it as easy to dance to as it would be in the midst of a sweaty club. 

One of the big highlights of the evening came in the form of Faithless' blistering 'Insomnia', something which has been a standout track from Cream Liverpool, Cream Ibiza and Creamfields. The vocals built towards a specatcular crescendo, which is better left viewed above than explained, before they finished sensationally with Eric Prydz's 'Pjanoo'. A modern day anthem from another Cream favourite.

As the music faded out and the conductor Anthony Weeden took a bow, the crowd reaction ensured one more tune, with Daft Punk's 'One More Time' the chosen track for a significant encore. 

Unlike other classical events, this is something which could only truly be done properly in the city where the brand was born. Everything; from the crowd, to the venue right down to the track selections, made it utterly triumphant in every respect. It's proof, if anyone needed it, that Cream is still on undeniably epic form, even a quarter of a century later.