Summer Festival Guide parties alongside Salt-N-Pepa, Outkast, Sean Paul, Clean Bandit, Bruno Mars and over 50,000 people at Wireless Festival last Sunday. It is probably one of the biggest festivals in London and the UK in July 2014. Each year the line-up never disappoints. Summer Festival Guide headed to Finsbury Park to check out over 30 acts across three stages including Ellie Goulding, Naughty Boy, Rixton, Clean Bandit, Outkast or the headline for Sunday Bruno Mars.
Created in 2005, set across three days in two different locations (Birmingham and Finsbury Park), the Wireless festival organized and managed by Livenation attracts HUGE names, different genres and all sorts of audience. One stage you’re jumping along with Raileigh Christie, and the next you’re skaking and waving with Salt-n-pepa. The choice is great and yours.
I start my journey from the Pepsimax Stage looking forward to Raleigh Ritchie. DJ Westwood is doing an amazing job with the warm up. Raleigh Ritchie arrives like a storm directing at the audience “Today, we’re gonna do a lot of jumping” and we do. I left after the crowd pleaser track “Stronger than ever”. Raleigh Ritchie has lots of energy and great interaction with the audience, mainly due to his acting career (Acting name: Jacob Anderson). I meet him later for a chat in the Wireless VIP office. Leaving the Pepsimax Stage, I noticed one of the grossest things|: the urinals are next to the stage as if guys need to hear live music to pee. This is very unpractical, gross and quite disgusting as long as the day progresses. I can’t understand why Livenation agreed to have two major spots of urinals near stages as families walk around and young girls walk around to navigate from stage to stage. Stopping by the Main Stage, Alexa Goddard is singing “Marilyn” The singer signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation record later earlier this year.
Photo courtesy of Wireless Festival – Andrew Whitton
In the VIP area, Rixton, John Newman, Neon Jungle and Dominique Young Unique were interviewed and photographed in the dedicated Wireless area. The place is quite buzzing with new and fresh acts.
Heading back to the Main Stage, Salt-N-Pepa is now performing and what a performance. If the American hip hop trio from New York is in the UK every 10 years, please let me sign right now. The sun is shining in Finsbury but they definitely bring the heat! They are engaging, sexy, funny and very happy to be there. They start thanking their 70s babies, 90s babies and the ladies singing a cover Arrested Development “Everyday People”. Everyone is bouncing, waving and singing. Next, it is a tribute to old school hip hop mixing new tunes like Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”, “Shoop” and “Shake your thang”. They continue with the Ultimate classic “Let’s talk about”. Cheryl James a.k.a Salt is wearing a clear skater skirt and a Salt-n-Pepa T-shirt with a gold belt whereas Sandra Denton a.k.a Pepa is wearing sexy black trousers withSalt-n-Pepa t-shirt with a tight ponytail. Deidra Roper or DJ Spinderella is in the back all in black.
Photo courtesy of Wireless Fesitval – Jenna Foxton
DJ Spinderella is in da house and is working the next dance session tracks starting with Montell Jordan “This is how we do it”. The two dancers on stage with Salt-N-Pepa are amazing: wearing red caps, Adidas tracksuits and Salt-n-Pepa t-shirts, they really interact the audience and show us some great moves. Asking all the ladies to “Shake their booties” on Sugarhill Gang Apache’s “Jump On It”. The next track starts with old school hard rock songs like: “Smells like a teen spirit” by Nirvana, “Sweet Child of Mine” of Guns N’ Roses with everyone going crazy on air guitar! “What a Man” is next for all the good men in the world. The last song had Beyonce’s “Run the World” as an intro but as soon as Salt-N-Pepa put their American Football jacket on, the crowd knew it was time for “Push It”.
After a really great time dancing and bouncing with Salt, Pepa and DJ Spinderella, I am heading back to the food section for a late lunch. Once again there is a great choice, from Lebanese Street food to Hot Chocolate station: Everything is set for to please all pallets and wallets. The Fresh Lemonade stand is having amazing success. My advice is to follow the queue! Water points are also available and in abundance. There is 2 tobacco shops with rainbow benches and a Medicine man truck where you can find sun cream, Anadin, paracetamol, cough medicine, sunglasses and even condoms.
By the time I am the VIP section to meet with Clean Bandit, John Newman is singing, “Love me again”. The Cirque du Soir entertainment is in full swing and the fire pizza stall has great success. It also smells Churros and Ben and Jerries’ van is popular as well. Heading to the Boombox Stage for Rixton: They are performing “Make out” and the crowd is very excited with lots of girl fans screaming. After Jake Roche wished a Happy Birthday to a fan they finished the show with their star main song “Me and my Broken Heart” – the ultimate crowd pleaser. The four-member Mancunian band is charming, cheeky and full of energy on stage.
On the way to Pepsi Max Stage, J. Cole is rapping “Crooked Smile” on the Main Stage. Dj Westwood is entertaining the crowd and asks to “scream for Clean Bandit”. Everyone is waiting for Clean Bandit now: Grace Chatto, all dressed in white is coming first playing cello. Followed by Milan Neil Amin-Smith playing the Violin and Luke and Jack Patterson on the drums and keyboard. Jess Glyne arrives first for “A+E” joined soon by guest Elisabeth Troy for “Heart on fire”. Another guest, Florence Rawlings comes on stage for “Extraordinary”. I had to leave before they performed by favourite track “Rather Be” but I really don’t want to miss Ellie Goulding concert. I arrive just in time for the last song of her show “Burn”. She is playing the guitar, wearing a flowery short and a crop top. Her performance is sincere, emotional and strong.
Going back to the VIP section, Le Cirque du Soir is still there entertaining the crowd and the food stalls are busy. John Newman and Harley "Sylvester" Alexander-Sule from Rizzle Kicks are chatting. I am now getting ready for Sean Paul back in the Pepsimax Stage. In front row, a group of ladies are waving Jamaican flags and DJ Westwoodis getting everyone hysterical. The show starts with two dancers wearing ethnic print latex jumpsuits. Followed by Diplo and Major Lazers, the tone is set. Sean Paul, proud with his Mohawk hairstyle,starts the show with “Temperature” and “Get Busy”. Bouncing, Jumping and dancing with a towel flying in the air, he gets the crowd crazy. After 30mns: direction the Boombox Stage to catch the end ofIndiana’s performance. The twenty five year old singer-songwriter Indiana has a very fragile and emotional voice, with interesting arrangements and lyrics. Unfortunately, It is quite quiet and the venue is nearly empty because people are gathering around the Main Stage for Outkast. They are reuniting to celebrate their 20th anniversary and they have not performed in the UK since 2002 and fans have been waiting for the gig! Andre 3000 is wearing a white wig beany, a black t-shirt with “I’ve never been to Africa” and Big Boi is wearing a cap, a gold chain and a black tracksuit. They performed their biggest hits like “Roses”, Mrs Jackson” and “Hey Ya”. One of the main disappointments is the lack or organization and aggression from Livenation security team. They seem to be more obsessed about the badge color to get to VIP areas rather than the actual safety of people. A group of young people notices a gap in the barriers and manages to get in the premises without passes. Security paid attention to the issue after 30 minutes. In the “In Da Zone” section, some celebrities like Tristan Wilds get the access denied and watch the show with the rest of us. Jade Thirwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix snubbed fans to get their own seats in the pitch area as they only have “in da zone” passes.
Photo courtesy of Wireless Festival – Rachael Wright
On my way to Pepsimax stage, I stopped by the main Wireless Bar, the entire staff is singing and dancing on “Hey Ya” and really enjoying the show.The gig is disturbed by the heavy rain so everyone tries to find shelter and umbrellas. Before Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke is playing the piano for bluesy version of “Too Little, too late” inPepsiMax Stage. After each song, he is claiming his love to his wife Paula Patton, which is quite boring and intense. The next song is “Lock the door” showing his powerful and amazing vocal range.Robin Thicke is a great surprise as most of the crowd appreciates his talents as a songwriter, musician and singer. The blues and soul band behind him and the two back up singers really bring his songs to live giving a new dimension to the lyrics. The last song “Get her back” is dedicated, with no surprise, to his wife.
Passing by the tobacco shop near Boombox Stage, Naughty Boy is playing their last track “La La La”. By that time the rain just stops for Bruno Mars amazing performance. What a performer! He just does not disappoint. He even gets better with time! Arriving on stage wearing a white hat with a red flower, ethnic shirt and tight black trousers, he is followed by the Hooligans.
Phillip Lawrence from the Hooligans is next. Wearing round glasses, a black hat and red animal print shirt and black trousers.The Hooligans, they just mean business and start with the “Lazy song” with a ska twist. We are here for a great show. Bruno Mars starts talking to the impatient audience “London how you feel? London can we see your dance?” They sing, “Treasure” encouraging people to clap and bounce while displaying some serious foot action and choreography. We are on our feet!! Bruno definitely brings back the sun in London. Playing now the guitar for a “Money Medley”, he is singing “Money, that’s what I want” which brings us back to the cool 50s rock years for a few moments before switching to “I want to be a billionaire” with a reggae edge mixed up with “I need a dollar” of Aloe Blacc. At the end of the song, he finishes acapella twisting the lyrics with an English accent “I want to be a billionaire, so bloody bad” which the crowd absolutely loved.
Photo courtesy of Wireless Festival – Danny North
Asking the audience to move our bodies side to side slowly on “Out first time”. His vocal range reminds us of Michael Jackson. A beautiful rainbow is surrounding the Main Stage, which adds to the performance and mood. It is the calm before the storm as the crowd scream on the first notes of “Marry you” followed a cover of “Walk with you” of Michael Jackson before an emotional and genuine interpretation of “When I was your man”. After a long and amazing piano intro from Phredley Brown, Bruno Mars sings a rock version of “Grenade” followed by “Just the way you are”. Bruno Mars is now playing drums before “ Locked out of Heaven” which put an end with fireworks to the show. Bruno Mars is always praised for his retro showman and generosity on stage. With the help of the Hooligans and choreographed dancing arrangements, mellow and soft interludes, fantastic, fancy and slick footwork inspired by James Brown, we had a fantastic time. What an end of this three-day festival. See you next year Wireless!