Image: Cream (source)
Over the past near thirty years, Cream has dominated Liverpool nightlife. From its imperious weekly reign of the nineties up to its present-day incarnation of global superbrand, the goliath has evolved and towered above others, managing to remain relevant to a huge audience of clubbers from every generation of that three-decade dominance.
The Cream Classical concept has been one such example of that ability to evolve. The re-emergence of the older raver in recent years has dovetailed with Cream's knack for somehow making the dance music revisionist agenda fresh. This hasn't just been about giving the more seasoned dancefloor denizen the chance to hear the records that soundtracked their youth, instead welcoming an experience that appeals equally to the younger generation at the same time.
Placing Cream Classical in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral has been part of the masterstroke. By picking a building which quite literally looms over the city, the brand has managed to get its own bragging rights about the clubs and classical trend. If you're going to be involved in what is now quite a saturated marketplace, you need to do it properly. Cream not only bring their heritage but also the brass balls to pull off something once again on this epic scale.
This third edition had a lot to live up to, with the 2016 and 2017 Cream Classical experiences lingering long in the memory. As ever the set-list was rejuvenated, with the theme for this doubleheader Cream Ibiza, the brand's longest-running and arguably most wide-reaching residency which still holds strong.
In terms of the venue itself, none of the previous magic and aura had been dimmed. We've said it before, but there really is nothing quite like walking into this ecclesiastical paradise, whether a first-timer or a veteran long converted to its gloriously gothic charms. Liverpool Cathedral is easily one of the most impressive within Europe, and Cream once more bathed the environ in stunning light, sharp green lasers and smoke regularly piercing the walls.
The music was equally on point, with the set-list bulging with records that defined different tiers of the Balearic experience. Obvious radio friendly crowd pleasers coursed through the venue's walls, Groove Armada's evergreen 'Superstylin' joined by a particularly raucous rendition of Shapeshifters' feel-good anthem 'Lola's Theme', but there was also time for more introspective cuts which made excellent use of the orchestra's full capabilities.
Once such example was a simply stunning rendition of Silicone Soul's 'Right On', the delightful bittersweet strings of one of the most beautiful house music records of all time coming into their own in this space. That, along with a joyous re-imagining of the Source and Candi Staton's Jamie Principle aping 'You've Got The Love'., probably proved the sound based highlughts of the night.
And it being Cream Ibiza trance obviously came to the play. The genre's late nineties heyday has had a bit of a purple patch recently, DJs such as Nina Kraviz and Denis Sulta dipping into the sound whilst the likes of Gatecrasher have made a comeback, but it's rarely been delivered with such grandiose splendour as here.
ATB's '9pm (Til I Come)', which has been dropped recently by Sulta in his sets, aroused one of the biggest show of phones in the air of the evening, while a thunderous rendition of Delerium's 'Silence' transformed one of the cheesiest records of the Cream era into a spine-tingling tour de force. An equally mind-bending version of Paul Van Dyk's 'For an Angel' the near twenty-year-old calling card for Cream Ibiza's longest standing resident, proved a fitting musical finale.
The event has certainly lost some of its surprise for previous attendees, but having been present at each of the antecedent events Cream have still managed to retain an element of building on the concept. And in all honesty, will it ever get boring hearing timeless classics in a magnificent surroundings? We're still completely sucked in.