Renaissance 15th Birthday - Wild In The Country at Knebworth Park - Saturday 30 June 2007

On paper Renaissance's 15th Birthday celebrations plans – with a stellar line up and a picturesque backdrop in the tranquil Knebworth Park – looked nothing short of spectacular. The weather, a consistent stream of rain and high winds, had other plans however. The ticket touts outside of the main entrance were rather optimistic, as the majority of the people in attendance already had tickets – and very few spontaneous revellers turned up on the day as the heavy rainfall discouraged ad hoc arrangements.

It made little difference to the atmosphere though, as the numbers and spirits inside the choices of tents were constantly high, despite the conditions.

The line-up in the main tent contained some of Renaissance's favourite DJ's that have graced the club over the years, including the traditional hands of Sasha and Digweed and new faces like Paul Woolford. The more fashionable Neon Arena had a more disposable bill – with the rather weak Justice who sequenced a set not dissimilar to the one they showcased at Sonar – and the predictable sounds of Tiga, 2 Many DJ's and Erol Alkan. Although the inclusion of Hot Chip did break up the action for a short period. The Wild Arena was far more inventive, with the legendary Francois K, Ricardo Villalobos and Luciano all in attendance.

After surviving the torrential downpour upon arrival – Beat Factor headed straight to the main Renaissance tent, choosing to bypass the outdoor stalls and attractions, to see Basics resident Paul Woolford. The last sections of his set were as impressive as always – and anyone who has been up to Basics to see Paul in action would not have been disappointed. The introduction of the excellent 'Can You Relate' by Samuel L Session was an early highlight, and this modern techno classic sounded amazing on the superb soundsystem. A further trip through the mud, made possible by some well-chosen Wellingtons, found the Wild Arena – with Luciano playing to a modest crowd. The music was solid enough but never really shined. Perhaps the most entertaining element of the set was Luciano's dress sense – looking more like a Spanish waiter than a techno innovator.

Up next was one of electronic music's most important figures - Francois K. It took the Depeche Mode producer plenty of time to complete the set up behind the decks, but the music started extremely well regardless. Some sublime vintage synths washed over the crowd, which had swelled to its largest capacity as the legendary DJ began. For half an hour things progressed nicely with deep techno and house reverberating around the tent. Unfortunately it didn't continue for long. To the amazement of almost everyone in attendance Francois K decided to play Eric Prydz's 'Positive Education' – which didn't combine well with the deeper sounds that preceded it. The poor selection didn't end here as wave after wave of poor quality, generic electro house tracks followed. It wasn't until the excellent Konrad Black remix of Snax's 'Honeymoon's Over' entered the mix that the quality was restored, but by this point Beat Factor's patience had run out.

A return to the Neon Arena threw up a rare moment of quality as Hot Chip played a dynamic and energetic live set to a packed audience. It was a shame that the weather prevented a real look around the Knebworth Park setting – but it did result in very efficient journeys between tents. A quick stroll back to the Renaissance tent enabled Beat Factor to catch a good amount of Sasha and Digweed's headline set and although it was perhaps a little too trance inspired, the crowd was totally immersed in the music – which is the only analysis required. Underworld followed with a showcase live performance that again kept the crowd enthralled with live versions of their classic catalogue, but they lacked that special inventive ingredient. The set of the night had to go to Ricardo Villalobos who lit up the Wild Arena with the final performance of the evening. Villalobos, with a harder than usual sound, created an electric atmosphere thanks to some unique and abstract grooves. Both his set here for Renaissance, and Richie Hawtin's peak time set at Sonar may just signal a transition in the musical direction of two of the scene's most influential personalities.

On reflection the unfortunate weather did affect the festivities at Wild In The Country, especially as a large amount of people who did brave the weather forgot to bring suitable footwear, and ended up with mud up to their knees by the morning. But despite this, the atmosphere was surprisingly upbeat as most people chose to let the quality of music on offer distract them from the conditions. With the exception of the Neon Arena, and a large part of Francois K set, the standard of music was high and definitely worth the effort. It may not have gone as well as the organisers would have hoped for – but Renaissance's 15th Birthday was most certainly memorable. It was hard not to enjoy the entertainment on offer, and that is the overall aim for any party or festival.

Renaissance 15th Birthday - Wild In The Country at Knebworth Park - Saturday 30 June 2007
PUBLISHED

July 23, 2007 at 10:33 AM CEST

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