Black Box, Guru Josh, Orbital, 808 State et al: Energy, Docklands Arena, London

TYPICAL SO-called “raves” (i.e. those massive dance parties held in cornfields off the M2S) don’t usually start ’til gone midnight. Energy, which bills itself as “England’s first legal rave”, kicks off at 4pm, and it’s indoors too (which is just as well as it’s turned a bit nippy out).

It’s hard to tell whether the 12,000 ravers present have turned up for the dancing (eight hours of it), or the special guest appearances by big dance music-types like Black Box, Guru josh etc. Certainly, while said “artistes” are on, the flare-ridden audience scream merrily, but as soon as they’re gone, everyone happily goes back to dancing.

Early on, Orbital and The Shamen (Scottish psychedelic types) do quick sets, but the real star action doesn’t happen ’til six, when Adamski wanders on. Disappointingly, Dis the dog has opted to sit this one out, but the ‘Ski does his two hits, ‘Killer’ (along with imposing-looking singer, Seal, on the mike) and, er, the other one, spending hours noodling around artistically on his keyboard.

808 State are next. There seem to be thousands of them up there, although it can’t really be more than a dozen or so. Their stuff is very drum-based and quite exciting. “Mek some noise!” bays one of them in his thick Manchester accent, and everybody obliges.

Snap, next up, are on and off within minutes. They only show their faces long enough to mime to ‘The Power’ and another song. Around now, were you to decide it was time to indulge in a Coke, you’d be horrified to discover that they cost £2. (“But you do get 20 ounces,” a counter assistant says, hopelessly.)

It’s getting on toward the end of the evening, and many of the crowd have now been dancing for six hours. Some look as though they’d enjoy nothing more than to get their flares off and step into a nice hot bath. Everyone’s energy (er, hence the name) is flagging, but we all want to see Guru Josh and Black Box.

The Guru looks simply elegant in a loose, Egyptian-style garment. Josh by name, nutter by nature, he waves his hands around a lot and moans about the Bright Bill (the piece of legislation currently going through Parliament that may ban such raves).

Then it’s the big moment:

Daniele! Mirko! Katrin! Everybody’s dying to know what Katrin is going to sound like, for it’s rumoured she’s actually going to sing live! On they come, and what does it sound like? Exactly like the flippin’ records, that’s what! Singing live, eh? A bit dubious…

By the end of their 20-minute set, everyone’s completely exhausted and entirely “raved-up”, so out the door we pile. What a remarkable event!

© Caroline SullivanSmash Hits, 2 May 1990

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