DJ Tiesto's brand name and face are plastered either side of the stage. You may also see him modelling underwear on giant Times Square billboards, and advertising expensive watches. The Dutchman is the epitome of the modern international superstar DJ. He broke house music into the US mainstream, remixed Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, and DJed as athletes paraded at the Athens Olympics. Tonight's four-hour set in front of 20,000 people in the East End's open air is a mere aperitif compared to the six hours of his current Ibiza residency. He is the biggest DJ in the world. But, for all the mega-pixel video screens, the scale and success, at the end I'm left wondering: is that all there is?
The cult of Tiesto can be seen in the people wearing football shirts bearing his name, many of whom have the rough around the edges look of the rave veteran, mildly caning it one more time and dancing as badly as ever. Several women are as glamorous as a night in a municipal park will allow in fur boots and bikinis, alongside a velvet-suited eccentric, and a bare-chested man backwards-somersaulting in private, happy delirium. A brief fist-fight that crashes into me stands out from a generally mellow scene, as a trance pulse underscores chats with friends, and mild air-punches at familiar tunes. I have to move deep into the crowd to see Tiesto himself. The anonymous worker-star occasionally puts his hands in the air, but communicates by robot instruction, as the big screens command: "LET'S HEAR YOU".
His expensive visuals look best as night falls, and light beams skim the sky. But a few Space Invaders and crystalline sequences, low-key streamers and dry ice go down like damp squibs. Music is Tiesto's bigger problem. Bloc Party's "One More Chance" provides nervous, unusual indie vocal energy. There is variety in the distorted electronic links between tracks, where jet-wooshes and hammer-taps decorate a pensive mood he borrows from Samuel Barber, on his 2005 version of "Adagio for Strings". This introspection is more interesting than the inevitable four- to-the-floor outcome. The beat that is rock'n'roll's curse on music, E-resembling climaxes and kick-drums are identical to the trance and house being played a decade ago. Tiesto plays Coldplay's "The Scientist" near the end. Its bland euphoria neatly sums up his tweaks of a sclerotic formula.