Racing and raving at Sandown Park

Round & About

Michelle Miley reviews: Superstar DJ and Ibiza veteran Pete Tong and Jules Buckley’s genre-smashing Heritage Orchestra headline an evening at the races with an iconic collaboration that pays homage to over twenty years of era-defining, dance music tracks encapsulating the spirit of the White Isle.

As the last horse race of the evening concludes with a steward’s enquiry, racegoers jockey for position at the open-air stage in front of Sandown Park’s grandstand in anticipation of legendary DJ and producer Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra’s Ibiza Classics concert. The stage begins to fill with musicians whilst the 65-piece orchestra is packed onto the tiny platform.

With a thunderous rumble, the unmistakable string melody of Fatboy Slim’s Right Here Right Now starts up and resonates across the concourse. A spotlight illuminates Tong as he takes up his place behind the decks. It doesn’t take long for a cosmopolitan crowd of racegoers and party people to begin whooping and clapping to the familiar dance hit that is amplified with classical instruments deftly conducted by Jules Buckley.

Blue lasers pour out from the stage and the Heritage musicians instigate a round of hands-in-the-air clapping as the xylophonist takes on the Eric Prydz, keyboard-based Pjanoo with fantastic dexterity. Tong seamlessly flows in Lola’s Theme accompanied by the first singer of the night who, along with most of the spectators, belts out the chorus “I’m a different person, yeah. Turn my world around.”

Dance-floor filler Children by the late Robert Miles follows in the mix as lasers shoot streams of coloured light across the sky through a cloud of smoke reminiscent of dingy, underground nightclubs that epitomise the 90’s party scene. The crowd go wild when ATM’s Balearic beauty 9AM (Till I Come) drops and is elevated by the orchestra’s keen drummer. Everyone on stage (and off!) is fully immersed in the magic of the moment.

Tong takes to the mic and asks racegoers if they “Backed any winners?” to which two punters aptly reply, “No. It all went Pete Tong!”

Arman Van Heldon’s You Don’t Even Know Me follows a vocal rendition of Rui Da Silva’s Touch Me. The audience do not hold back when red lasers cut through the air and the heavy bassline of the Chemical Brothers’s smasher Galvanise blasts from the stage.

Guest vocalist and rising-star Becky Hill is a highlight, dressed in an orange two-piece outfit, killing it with her performance of the Robin S belter Show Me Love as everyone watching jump along and sing the words in harmony.

The orchestra shine as the nostalgic journey continues through largely instrumental tracks including Café Del Mar, Strings of Life, Knights of the Jaguar and Yeke Yeke. Daft Punk’s beloved tune One More Time is followed by the return of Becky Hill for her superb rendition of Sing It Back. People are ecstatic when the distinctive riff of Donna Summer’s 70’s disco anthem I feel love is skillfully blended with Moloko’s 90’s single.

“Want to go to Ibiza?” is the next question posed by Tong as he drops Underworld’s bass thumping Born Slippy. The track is reworked with the inclusion of a guest MC who recites poetic lyrics of familiar sights and sounds evocative of the “magical land”.

Jubilant onlookers bob along to Swedish House Mafia’s Miami to Ibiza until the iconic drum sample featured in the Faithless dance music staple Insomnia kicks in and once again gets them throwing their hands in the air, repeating “I can’t get no sleep” to the sound of the hypnotic beats.

The night culminates with one last appearance from Becky Hill who blissfully sings everyone’s favourite cover song, Candi Station’s You Got The Love, while racegoers and ravers alike sway in unison and holler the lyrics at the top of their voices in appreciation.

An encore is a sure-fire bet as a chant of “one more tune” reverberates around the showground. Tong is swift to respond as he pulls out old school rave crowd-pleaser Out Of Space by the Prodigy. In true Ibiza fashion, the night triumphantly finishes on a euphoric high with everybody jumping up in elation as the pounding bassline drops and fingers point firmly towards the sky.

A final flourish sees the Heritage Orchestra serenade Tong for his birthday with a stellar delivery of the Happy Birthday song!

Pete Tong and the Heritage Orchestra will be back out on the road with a brand new Ibiza Classics tour in December 2019 climaxing with two nights at London’s O2.

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