For those of you who weren’t sunning yourself/burning at Wireless festival this weekend, here’s what you missed:
It’s day one of Wireless! It’s the first time the festival’s taken place outside of Hyde Park! And its new venue of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is… A MASSIVE CAT LITTER TRAY! Not that the venue being in a massive gravel-filled boulevard leered over by luxury flat developments stops the crowd getting into Frank Ocean’s stately headline set on the Pepsi Max stage, where the infectious singalong involved so much falsetto it could be a castrati convention. Fazer’s set fares less well, taking place in a tent so staggeringly empty it’s like the grime-pop equivalent of ‘28 Days Later’. Justin Timberlake wraps the day up with a flashy, charismatic hurtle through his hits that’s impossibly fun. Shame the same can’t be said for the soul-sapping, 30-minute slog through the crowds to Stratford International.
Roll on Saturday, the hottest day of the weekend. Along with the heat, the dust of the arena made it feel like being in the Californian desert – something that Kendrick Lamar countered with a head-to-toe white outfit. His languid rhymes soothed an audience that had just overheated while crunking to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s club banger, ‘Can’t Hold Us’. There were a few (thousand) who tried to take shelter in the Pepsi Max tent with Calvin Harris and his laser light show, but it was so rammed most sloped back to the main stage to await Jay-Z. Kitted out in a crisp white shirt and a gold chain with links as big as his fist, he cranked out a set of hits complete with big band backing. It was flashy, it was overblown (who needs two drummers?) and it was a great big hip hop climax.
After headlining separately on Friday and Saturday, Jay-Z and J-Tim provided Sunday’s crowds with a tantalising two-for-one bargain bucket. The pair are touring for the next few months under the slightly clunky name Legends of the Summer (a play on 1994 movie ‘Legends of the Fall’ perhaps? Who knows).
This debut show kicked off in rude health. Both stars were on stage together at the start, slapping down hits like kids playing snap. ‘Move Your Body’ quickly segued into ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A)’ with a pinch of The Jackson 5’s ‘ I Want You Back’ sandwiched in between. The crowd (dressed almost entirely like middle-aged spring breakers) lapped up the constant back-and-forth. Jay-Z’s extended section in the middle didn’t drop the pace, despite being loaded with material from his new LP ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’. The weak spot however was Timberlake’s own extended solo segment. Self-indulgent, slow and snoozy, it just dragged on and on leading many to ask ‘Has Jay-Z been locked in a portaloo?’. Many took this as a cue to leave early, but those that stayed witnessed a surprise pop-in from Rihanna (on ‘Run This Town’), Timberlake crooning ‘New York New York’ and a closing ‘Suit & Tie’ from these two hot-weather heroes (sorry, Legends of the Summer).
Find out more about music festivals happening this summer.