EDITORIAL: The 5 W’s of Above & Beyond’s Toronto Acoustic II Show


Who: Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond live @ Direct Energy Centre - February 15 2015. Photo by Tobias Wang

Above & Beyond live @ Direct Energy Centre – February 15 2015. Photo by Tobias Wang.

How does one summarize sixteen years worth of history, discovery, accomplishments, and success in a few short sentences? Simply put, Above & Beyond is a British progressive trance group based out of London, England and is united by Jono Grant, Paavo Siljamäki, and Tony McGuinness. Since their debut in 2000, the trio have become one of the most worldly recognized artists in the electronic music scene. For what it counts, they have made frequent annual appearances on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs list, peaking at #4 in 2008 and 2009. Grant, Siljamäki, and McGuinness are the proud owners of the Anjunabeats and Anjunadeep record labels and have currently signed 27 and 19 artists respectively. They host the weekly 2-hour long radio show Group Therapy Radio featuring a mix of the latest trance hits and trance classics with a 30-minute guest mix at the end of each episode. Group Therapy, also known as ABGT, took over after the retirement of Trance Around The World in 2012. TATW ran for 450 episodes over the course of its nine year run. Above & Beyond have released five studio albums (“Tri-State”, “Sirens Of The Sea”, “Group Therapy”, “Acoustic”, and “We Are All We Need”) and a countless number of singles, mixes, and remixes over their many active years. Their latest achievement happened nearly two months ago when their track We’re All We Need (ft. Zoë Johnston) was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

What: Acoustic II & Global Tour

“The acoustic project is a reconnection with the musicians that we were before we met. The songs have been on an interesting journey to get here because we tend to write in a fairly acoustic way anyway. We don’t just stick a bit of vocal over a dance track – that’s not how we work. We try to start with a song and it’s usually only later down the line that we take certain elements from that song and progress them into a more dancefloor-friendly version” – Tony McGuinness, 2014

Above & Beyond’s acoustic project began in 2013 with several sold out performances inside London’s Porchester Hall and Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre. The full concert experience plus notes from the musicians involved can be viewed on YouTube thanks to production and filming support from THUMP. Grant, Siljamäki, and McGuinness performed alongside a 23-piece band in their recording studio and released their third album, “Acoustic”, the following January.

“Acoustic II”
is the revitalization of their project. This followup album will feature arrangements of the biggest hits from their previous album, “We Are All We Need”, and a few reworked pieces of previously unreleased fan favorites. The album is available for preorder on Above & Beyond’s website for £7.99 GBP (roughly $11.39 USD or about $15.10 CAD at the current exchange) and will be released sometime later this year; the specific shipping date is yet to be announced.

In addition to the upcoming album, Above & Beyond announced an accompanying world tour, set to begin on the first of May. Their first stop takes place in their home country of England, at the Albert Hall in Manchester, followed by shows in Utrecht and London. After these shows the group will fly across the Atlantic to continue the tour around North America. Toronto has two scheduled shows: May 14th and May 15th. I wrote an article for the event when it was first announced back in the fall last November.

Solomon Grey will be the supporting act for nearly all of the shows, including Toronto’s. The duo group is also from London, England, and was formed in 2012 by Joe Wilson and Tom Kingston. The pairing have gained public attention through their music, releasing several singles and most successfully producing the soundtrack to the BBC’s drama series The Casual Vacancy. Their self-titled debut album was released earlier in March – some randomly selected fans who preordered it from their website received personalized messages and autographed copies from Wilson and Kingston themselves. On February 26th during Group Therapy Radio #170 with Solomon Grey as the guest mix artist, Siljamäki made the official announcement about their support on the road for the upcoming tour.

above and beyond acoustic tour poster 2016

Where: Massey Hall

Since its grand opening in the summer of 1894, Massey Hall has hosted thousands of events, from musicians, to politicians, to comedians, and was the home and debut of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Wealthy industrialist Hart Massey purchased the land and hired a crew to construct the professional concert facility as a memorial to his son Charles Albert Massey and as a gift to our city. The building inside and out was designed by architect Sidney Badgley with a neoclassical facade (the architectural design preference of Massey’s daughter, Lillian). Toronto City Council declared Massey Hall a Heritage Property under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1973 and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981. For its 100th anniversary, the basement of the building was renovated into a bar called Centuries, allowing alcohol on the premises for the first time in history. The seating capacity for the space is 2675.

Five different Canadian artists have recorded their sets inside Massey Hall and have released the performance as a live album: Neil Young‘s “Live At Massey Hall 1971” in 1971, Rush‘s “All The World’s A Stage” in 1976, Ronnie Hawkins‘ “Let It Rock” birthday concert with friends in 1995, Matthew Good‘s “Live At Massey Hall” in 2008, and Burton Cummings‘ “Massey Hall” in 2012. Several films and tv specials have been filmed within the gorgeous hall, including Neil Young’s concert film trilogy “New Young Live” in 2006 and 2008, Justin Beiber‘s “Home For The Holidays” in 2011, and Gordon Lightfoot‘s “All Live” in 2012.

Located in the Garden District of downtown Toronto, Massey Hall is easily accessible through public transportation. The venue falls between the Dundas and Queen TTC subway stations on the Young-University line. Depending which station you get off at, head south (Dundas) or north (Queen) towards Shuter Street and go east – you can’t miss its fire escape, its large iconic sign, and its bright red doors.

Massey Hall is located at 178 Victoria Street, Toronto, ON M5B1T7:

When: May 14 & May 15

Toronto was initially only scheduled to host one show on Saturday, May 14th. There was an overwhelmingly high demand for this special event – tickets never made it to public sale as the show completely sold out solely through those who reregistered for presale access. The Above & Beyond team released the following statement:

“We’ve been absolutely blown away by the response to our Acoustic II pre-sale, across all shows, these past days. Thank you, from us and our entire team, for showing such faith in our music and in this project.”

Ink Entertainment conversed with the venue and A&B’s crew over the support the Toronto fans demonstrated. Within twenty-four hours, it was confirmed a second Acoustic II performance would take place on Sunday May 15th. In similar fashion, tickets for the event sold out the day they were released.

Massey Hall - Seating Plan

Since Massey Hall is a seated venue, I left the fate of my ticket in the hands of my friends, hoping that they would buy a string of seats in a row so we could all enjoy the night side by side… I underestimated the chaos of the Ticketmaster system. The massive rush of traffic slowed down the website from hundred of customers simultaneously attempting to add tickets to their carts. With everyone selecting different seating sections and requesting varying ticket quantities, combined with blocks of tickets being put “on reserve” while the user completes their purchase or the daredevils refreshing their search quarry to see what else was available, the whole process was stressful and made it nearly impossible to purchase the tickets you set out for. A similar chaotic experience took place when the tickets were released for the second show. My friends ended up purchasing whatever they could: a few double and several single seats scattered throughout the entire theatre split amongst both nights.

Caroling from the Toronto Rave Community came up with a clever plan to help sort out the mess on behalf of everyone involved. She created a Google Docs Spreadsheet where ticket holders can list the seats they are trying to exchange or sell, and buyers can scroll through the document to see if anything meets their criteria. The entire thing is very well organized: section, row, seat number, the contact’s name and information, followed by an optional note with buying requests.

Above & Beyond Acoustic II Seat Exchange (Saturday May 14th 2016)
Want to list your tickets to this show? Add your seat info using this form!

Above & Beyond Acoustic II Seat Exchange (Sunday May 15th 2016)
Want to list your tickets to this show? Add your seat info into this form!

Caroling monitors the May 14th spreadsheet and another fan, Michelle, kindly volunteered to monitor the May 15th sheet. If you have any questions, concerns, or need to make changes to your own listing, you can shoot either Caroling or Michelle a Facebook message.

Why: Endless Reasons! 

I can’t emphasize enough how rare and unique of a night this will be. The term “EDM” is often associated as not being “real music”, but an event like this can prove to the close-minded how much time and effort goes into producing and creating a full and complete directory of songs containing elements of melody, rhythm, dynamics and texture. Our city is very lucky for a few reasons: not only does Toronto have the privilege of being the only Canadian stop, we are responsible for two of the very selective sixteen shows on Above & Beyond’s entire international acoustic tour. They will take place inside a beautiful venue with deep historical value that is easily accessible for anyone who relies on public transportation. Stay connected and share your excitement on social media by joining the official Facebook Event pages: May 14 & May 15.

This is your gentle reminder that this is not a rave. The atmosphere will be a completely different version of intimacy and unity, so the last thing anyone will want is to be seated beside someone who’s a little too intoxicated waiting for the “drop”. Leave your rave bras, neon tanks and kandi cuffs at home. For some, maybe you haven’t had to dress formally since prom. Use this as an excuse to doll yourselves up – I know I’m looking forward to the opportunity to dress to the nines!

Let’s keep it classy, Toronto! Hope all you beautiful little dreamers will enjoy the magical night as much as I will.

Above & Beyond

Ashlyn Doughty – EDMTOR


About Author

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It was love at first bass drop. Ashlyn became intensely drawn to the scene after her first show, a passion which has continuously blossomed ever since. Attended Las Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival in 2015, an unbelievable magical experience she'll cherish forever. You’ll always find her dancing in the middle of the crowd, connecting with the music, the lights, and the atmosphere. Dream on little dreamers!

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