If The Strokes brought the indie cool on Thursday, and Blur last night brought a knees up, today it's time for glitter and glamour courtesy of our most popular Aussie import Kylie.
I arrive in good time to catch Years And Years, a British electronica trio founded in London. The group consists of frontman and keyboardist Olly Alexander, bassist Mikey Goldsworthy and synth player Emre. Olly's charisma is apparent right at the start and you can see the crowd being charmed by him,its smiles all round. His soulful voice reminds me of Matt Goss of Bros era but these songs are so much better and complex. They recently scored their first UK No 1 with ‘King’ and can count Kylie as a fan as the camera catches her stage left dancing in the wings. It’s evident that Olly Alexander is a real star and with a genuine warmth juxtaposed with a vulnerability that endears.
Up next is Mika who kick s off with perhaps his most recognised hits 'Grace Kelly' and 'Love today', which was a brave move that actually paid off. Mika is given a warm reception but you get the feeling the crowd is just for warming up in anticipation of Chic featuring Nile Rodgers.
Of course this is not the original line-up, but the main man Nile Rodgers is present and correct. There is a delay whilst they sort out some sound problems, meanwhile Niles is already on-stage entertaining the crowd with chat and banter looking very relaxed. Apparently the last time they were here they lost sound midway through their set so Niles tells us, so this time they want to have it nailed on.
We are treated to a medley of hits for the various artists he has worked with including Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, David Bowie, and Duran Duran. The crowd are lapping this up, and their funk/soul/disco tunes seem to be a good fit for the Kylie fan base. I am however unmoved, strangely this all seems a bit cabaret to me and felt they outstayed their welcome.
Thankfully things improve and move to the sublime as Grace Jones takes to the stage. The Inspirational, gutsy, artistic Ms Jones is mesmerising. Her voice is as powerful as ever as is the body! The fact that Grace is 67 is kind of irrelevant because she defies age and genre and is a very unique and distinct proposition (something sadly that is lost on some of the crowd who chant “Kylie” throughout the set).
In scant clothes and various head dresses she dances and moves around the stage taking all eyes with her. With Grace Jones you never know what to expect, for example 'Slave to the Rhythm' is delivered whilst keeping a hoopla going round her waist! There were of course other highlights 'Pull up to my Bumper', 'Private Life' and 'Nightclubbing' were delivered with style and panache!
As a true artist her influences are apparent in her performance: love for nature, her Pentecostal upbringing and acting coming to the fore. She at one point is greeting the crowd and shaking hands whilst being walked around the photography pit on a security guy’s shoulders. How do you follow that???
Well, it would appear with glamorous dancers, big set designs, slick choreography, show girl costumes, sparkle, glitter, high heels which can only mean one thing…Kylie is in town!
The euphoria from her fans is palpable. Everyone here has been waiting all day for Kylie and the park is packed out for this show. Kylie is in good voice opening with 'Better The Devil You Know' but the biggest reaction is to her hypnotic 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' and the song that re- launched Kylie 'Spinning Around'.
At one point there is a nostalgic sing along to the Neighbours theme tune, which is perhaps the first time Kylie went “off script” and duly joined in. As polished a performer as she no doubt is, a show can sometimes be too slick and choreographed. I suspect however that the other fifty or so thousand here tonight would strongly disagree. The production, costumes and dancers were faultless as were the hits which just kept on coming. As the evening draws to a close with 'Into the Blue' the glitter ball above Kylie glinting and twinkling into the night sky. There is no denying that Kylie delivered for her fans, and pop music would be a much duller place without her.
latest on this festival
line-ups & rumours
with Nile Rodgers & CHIC, and Grace Jones, on Sunday 11th July 2021
with Pixies (Friday), and IDLES (Saturday)