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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Dutch band Kensington rocks to a new beat on world tour with Armin van Buuren

The most incongruous guest act to appear in Armin Only Embrace is Kensington – the idea of integrating a live rock band into a DJ set reeks with the kind of ambition and indulgence of rock's own golden age.
From left, Casper Starreveld, Eloi Youssef, Niles Vandenberg and Jan Haker of Kensington.  Tristan Fewings / Getty Images
From left, Casper Starreveld, Eloi Youssef, Niles Vandenberg and Jan Haker of Kensington. Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

The most incongruous guest act to appear in Armin Only Embrace, the Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren’s new stage show on world tour, is Kensington. Why? First, the idea of integrating a live rock band into a DJ set – and bringing four bodies and all that gear along just to perform a couple of songs a night – reeks with the kind of ambition and indulgence of rock’s own golden age.

“It’s weird, in the sense you’re just waiting to do your song – and then you’re chilling out,” says guitarist Casper Starreveld backstage before the May 6 world premiere of the tour.

But more than that, it also represents a significant artist from another musical world being roughly shoehorned into sonically strange surroundings. In their home country of the Netherlands, Kensington’s profile is huge. In November, they will headline their own three-night stay at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome – van Buuren’s premiere was there for just two nights. The odd stage pairing came about after Kensington covered van Buuren’s This is What It Feels Like for a live radio session. The DJ heard it, liked it and sent the band a message on Twitter.

“With this tour, it’s all about going with the flow,” says lead singer Eloi Youssef. “It’s very different for us. We had to think really hard about it.”

It was ultimately a good decision. Taking to the stage on the opening evening to perform joint hit Heading Up High, Kensington received the most rapturous welcome of any guest. Now the group is looking forward to bringing that live energy to the UAE and beyond.

“In Holland, the featured artist thing is a bit weirder,” says drummer Niles Vandenberg. “But in Mexico or Dubai, it’s a new territory us – and Armin’s been there before. Everything outside of Europe is quite exciting.”

artslife@thenational.ae