First I must confess to being a Warehouse Project Virgin (WHPV). I do get a quick initiation from some lovely peeps from Telford on my approach to the underground car park venue. You came from where?! Yes my reaction too, but the WHP reputation is travelling far and wide, with the end of the year closure looming there’s only so many weekends left to pack in the partying. And what a party it is. Entering the venue under Piccadilly you immediately sense there’s something special about to happen. That’s not just created by the ‘room aromas’ on sale, but the up for it vibes are aplenty from a mixed, friendly crowd. Early doors (11.30) and the large arched bricked rooms are already bustling with students, pouters, buff boys and going the distance ravers. The atmosphere is buzzy and excitable, which is a good sign for the pace of the night (until 5.00am).
With reviewer’s backstage passes we get treated to a better quality of portaloo (hand sanitiser always makes me feel all festivally) and quieter bar area. It’s a pleasant surprise to find the punters in here are down to earth, friendly, chatty folk- indicative of the broad slice of people WHP is attracting. Tonight’s a sell out (1800 capacity) and punters have come for a sniff of Calvin Harris in action.
The build up to Mr Harris’ set The Japanese Popstars kick things off in the main room. They get the crowd moving with upbeat poppy house. The visuals mesmerise and keep the focal point of the crowd fully on them. You need to claim your dancing space early on in here, as punters are packed in for a full night ahead. The crowd focus forward, their positioning almost gig like and the set is aimed to keep the happy vibes building. Good times all round but the more interesting offering for me is in the smaller room from Felix Da Housecat. Hip hop and house classics chop and change at a rapid pace, with The Message and Back to Life getting dusted off the shelf. There’s less DJ worship in here and people seem to engage and groove a bit more with each other rather than staking a limited foot space next door.
A few hours into proceedings and the crowd show their love to the main event. Calvin doesn’t fail to disappoint. His experience as a song writer and producer shine through. He keeps his standing as the show man you’d more expect to see at a gig. In front of the WHP crowd he delivers slabs of pumping tunes to keep the crowd moving and shows off his mixed catalogue of hits and electro beats that keep us on our toes for a good 90 minutes.
Stand out tracks include Bounce, You Used To Hold Me and I’m Not Alone. As the set comes to its pinnacle it feels like you’re experiencing his talent not merely as a highlights mixtape, but as a genuinely fun, bouncy journey that leaves us wanting more. It has more of the atmosphere of a big gig experience which scores brownie points with the crowd. If WHP goes down on Manchester’s musical map, tonight should be a marker of electro pop memories in the making.
Come 3.30am the exits flood open and the majority of party goers have had their fill. Hanging on in the venue suddenly seems a bit clingy to something good that has peaked and now it is a case of sweeping up the dregs. Popping into Mike Pickering’s set is a deflating end to the night as numbers are thin on the ground and the quest to keep the atmosphere going is a losing battle. A very notable electro vacuum fills the space and only the loyal ravers stay around. Mr Harris you made the party pop. That should have been the fitting full stop to a great night.