Having conquered Radio 1 to become the Queen of Dance, Annie Mac is on a mission to bring her favourite acts to the unwashed masses and tonight she’s here as ringmaster of Annie Mac Presents, her showcase of the best in electro, house and dubstep.
After navigating the police dogs and “rigorous” door search (I always half-expect to get a full-cavity search – was it really necessary to confiscate a bag of half-eaten Doritos?), we make it inside. As always with The Warehouse Project, there’s that magical moment of transformation as you step from the dreary Store Street exterior into a world of lights and beats.
As you might expect for an Annie Mac gig, the crowd is most made up of students, but everyone seems to be here for the right reason: to party, rather than to stand around picking off drunk freshers.
L-Vis1990 gives us a live airing of Neon Dreams, his new album of “futuristic Chicago house” (his words – think the retro electronic stylings of Sebastien Tellier), while Ms Dynamite stalks the stage like a glam gazelle in her glittery leggings.
Her high-energy brand of goes grime-infused garage goes down a storm – Wile Out, her collaboration with DJ Zinc, gets a rapturous reception – but as is so often the way with The Warehouse Project, the true gems are buried away in the smaller room two.
The 2 Bears (aka Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Greco-Roman Soundsystem’s Raf Rundell) set the night on fire with a set of playful house. Looking, as their name suggests, like two giant grizzlies in the DJ Booth, a real chill runs through the crowd as they drop Goddard’s beautiful new single ‘Gabriel’, Valentina’s haunting vocal filling the room.
Although Mac gets criticised by the more pedantic among the DJ community for her lack of skills as a live DJ, tonight she puts in a great set. Beginning slowly, she litters her set with a few classics, but it really peaks with a tribute to DJ Mehdi, the stunning French DJ who tragically died recently after a roof he was standing on at his Paris home collapsed.
The only draw back to WHP is the somewhat over-zealous door security (although one suspects that the police only granted a license on the proviso that security was tight – fair enough) and a lack of cash machines inside.
Don’t assume you can nip out for a quick cash-dash because you will not be let back in by the doormen. It’s never cool when you’re scraping around on the concrete for enough 20 pences to buy a bottle of water. Thank you to the kind benefactor who came to our rescue with some spare change – what a gent of a raver.
These really are minor gripes though, and Mac makes for an engaging host, as she showcases weekly on her Radio1 show. After leading the crowd in a mass sit down, Mac passes the electro baton on to set-closers Jack Beats.
The intensity of their set is truly breathtaking. Their remix of Passion Pit’s Little Secrets sends the crowd loopy, with its insane build ups and wobbling basslines, while the mountain-sized synths of UFO absolutely smashes it.Mac returns to the stage and crowdsurfs (looking apprehensive, she later thanks the crowd for leaving her dignity intact).
Jack Beats end with their remix of Fake Blood’s Mars. Strict running times mean there’s no time for an encore, so instead we’re led in a singalong of The Beatles All You Need is Love.
The crowd are either too worse-for-wear or too knackered from an hour and a half of frenzied dancing to remember the words to the verse, but everyone comes together for the chorus. “All together now, all you need is love…”
We set back out into early morning Manchester, deaf but exhilarated. A brilliant night for both the hardened clubber and the electro-novice.