Pete Tong Ibiza Classics – Live Review – Scarborough Open Air Theatre

Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics - Scarborough Open Air Theatre - Live Review

By Kirsty Reid, August 2023

Revellers partied hard under a setting sun as Radio One DJ Pete Tong treated Scarborough to a taste of summer on the White Island.

The idea of fusing club anthems with classical music might seem like something that could go a bit ‘Pete Tong’, but this is far from the case.

Created in 2015 for a late-night Prom at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Ibiza Classics has gone from strength to strength. Rave reviews of the one-off performance led to a stadium tour and sell-out shows, with Tong’s passion project becoming a regular fixture of the live music calendar.

Saturday night saw Tong bring Ibiza Classics to Scarborough’s Open Air Theatre for the venue’s penultimate show of 2023.

Originally built in the 1930s, the theatre has since undergone refurbishment and was officially opened by the Queen in 2010. Since it’s re-opening, it has played host to some of the music industry’s biggest stars – including Lewis Capaldi, Elton John, Kylie, Little Mix and, of course, Pete Tong.

Having never seen Tong perform, I was bursting with anticipation, so much so my boyfriend and I arrive at the 8,000-capacity venue just as the gates open.

Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics - Scarborough Open Air Theatre - Live Review

“Hyped-up crowd”

Being early birds does have one advantage, though – the standing area is almost empty on arrival, and we have the luxury of securing a spot directly in front of the stage.

We’ve got a good hour before the show starts, but neither of us mind the wait. What we do mind, however, is the downpour that occurs almost as soon as we’ve purchased our drinks. Having opted for shorts and a tee, I regret not planning for rain – after all, there’s little more unpredictable than British summer. But rain or shine, the show must go on…Undeterred fans sport ponchos, eagerly waiting for the world-famous DJ to grace the stage.

But first, DJ Kavita hits the decks. A lawyer by day and DJ by night, the phrase ‘work hard, play harder’ has never been more fitting.

Opening with The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’, the 53-year-old owns the stage as the hyped-up crowd sing along.

Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics - Scarborough Open Air Theatre - Live Review


Kavita’s infectious energy doesn’t waiver throughout her 60-minute set, which features ‘Losing My Religion’, ‘Suitcase Stories’ and ‘Sunshine’ among her impressive setlist. Not even scattered showers dampen spirits as Kavita and the thousands of revellers before her bop along to the beats. The mum-of-two might not have been in the industry long, but she’s been around long enough to know how to work a crowd – even one as large as this.

Rewind to April 2020, and Kavita made her DJ debut via a Facebook live stream to celebrate her 50th birthday. After hitting rock bottom following a divorce, Kavita dusted herself off, along with her decks, and set about learning the tricks of the trade – a decision that has clearly paid off.

Sunny skies return by 8.30pm, almost on cue, as Tong and the Essential Orchestra step out on stage – and the party really gets started. The atmosphere is electric as fans young and old erupt into cheers. The roar of the crowd only escalates as Tong’s electro-wizardry begins.

Pete Tong's Ibiza Classics - Scarborough Open Air Theatre - Live Review


Conductor Jules Buckley’s 65-piece orchestra work in union with the world-famous DJ to create a spectacular set of infectious Balearic beats. Rudimental’s ‘Feel The Love’ and Ultra Nate’s ‘Free’ are performed with belting vocals from a trio of singers. Dipping in and out of the show, the trio work the stage with sultry moves as thousands of revellers sing along with them. Rhythm Is A Dancer is a clear crowd favourite.

As dusk falls, the light show begins. Lasers and lights flash in perfect harmony with the music, hyping up the crowd further. A mid-show sax solo of ‘Man With The Red Face’ also goes down a treat.

Overseeing proceedings from the back of the stage, Tong continues to blast out the beats. Stompers include ‘9pm (Till I Come)’, ‘You Don’t Know Me’, ‘Gecko (Overdrive)’ and ‘Café Del Mar’. Ravers rejoice as Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’ brings the audio-visual spectacle to a euphoric close.

We might not have been on the sun-kissed party island, but Tong’s Ibiza Classics transported there – if only for the night.

Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics will be touring later this year, visit for details. 

Images: Cuffe & Taylor


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