The Cotswolds is a particularly genteel part of England, full of immaculate chocolate-box villages, where even the taxi drivers read The Telegraph, so it’s always surprising to find a big, messy dance festival looming up out of the ground near Stratford-upon-Avon. Global Gathering is an unpretentious gurnfest where the likes of international trance bores Tiësto and Ferry Corsten are big draws and Baby D and Utah Saints are exhumed from their (g)raves. It is now apparently impossible to buy jester’s hats at Glastonbury but there’s no such problem at Global Gathering – the whole point is to embrace the cliché. If you can also get hold of a whistle, glowsticks, a tub of fluoro paint and a sheet of A3 paper with the word ‘tune’ written on it, then you’re in the gang.
In an attempt to create their own ‘Jay-Z at Glasto’ moment, organisers booked Kanye West and allowed him to requisition the whole of the main programme on Friday night to make way for his Glow In The Dark extravaganza. Except Kanye seemed to have left his talking spaceships and gold-painted dancers at home. He still played great, but feeling shortchanged of the full audio-visual extravaganza to max their buzz, ravers began to drift away towards the tents.
I found Hervé expertly marshalling a small but dedicated crowd on the Mixmag Terrace (actually just a crescent-shaped bivouac, but in British dance music, ‘terrace’ is a magic word, designed to instantly transport you to that Ibizan sunrise in your mind). Apparently two competition winners had opened the stage in the middle of the afternoon and, seizing their opportunity for instant festival immortality, had eschewed the idea of taking anyone on a journey and dropped every classic they could think of one after the each, peaking the crowd by about 5pm and leaving creamy deep house chaps Âme thoroughly perplexed about what to do next.
Ali Shirazania certainly caused a stir among online chinstrokers when he put Deep Dish on the backburner last year to make minimal techno as Dubfire. But at Global Gathering, his pummelling, rhythmic set came across as inclusive rather than divisive. Dubfire then made way for Sven Väth, a DJ who was playing minimal before such a thing officially existed. These days the Cocoon club don looks uncannily like comedian Bill Bailey, especially when he comes to the front of the stage to grin, waggle his arse and pull his T-shirt over his head like a drunk uncle. It’s pretty fun, though.
Headlining in one of the other tents is Moby. I wander in just as ‘Go’ kicks in, which is strangely thrilling, but he soon lapses back into pompous MOR techno. All four of Global Gathering’s key Friday night DJ headliners were 39 or older. Should we be concerned?