day four review

Wireless Festival (London) 2006 review

published: Mon 26th Jun 2006

Wednesday 21st to Sunday 25th June 2006
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£37.50 for each day
last updated: Wed 10th May 2006

The sun is beating rays across the dusty paths of Hyde Park as day four of Wireless folds an indifferent line-up seen on paper into an origami swan of musical splendour. As people enter the arena, Zuma are piping out Zutons-esque skank-pop that’s completely not acoustic on the miniscule Acoustic stage. Wondering about the site, people seem upbeat, and it’s apparent that they’re the most varied bunch to turn up out of all the days yet.

Nizlopi are a surprise hit on the Main Stage. Far more than just a quirky Christmas single, the less-than-hip Leamington Spa duo prove they’ve actually got plenty more talent to their canon, as John Parker multitasks beat-boxing with playing an upright-bass, whilst vocalist Luke Concannon sings and strums folk melodies over the top. They call themselves ‘folk-hop’, which despite sounding ridiculously contrived is an apt description of their unique approach to performing music and their idiosyncratic vocals and memorable rhymes make for an uplifting show. Hyde Park loves them, and they love Hyde Park, so it’s a shame that when Concannon invites any members of the audience with a penchant for rapping on stage to join him for a song, no one is forthcoming. They may be having a great time, but the Wireless crowd clearly aren’t a pool of talent in themselves.

Far less ambiguous in genre but just as confident in performance are Freestylers, who mix beats and pieces for a dance explosion on the Xfm stage. Setting the already baking crowd to boil, their 90’s-bred hardcore is a fast-paced thrill from start to finish. As their blearing noise erupts and flows out the tent, more and more people are drawn in so that, by the end of it, it’s is bustling like a club at 2am.

Frontman Matt Cantor does a fine job of rallying the crowd, and soon everyone has their arms flailing in manner that, after four days of festival action, seems much the same as all the other instances of flailing arms. It’s still bloody excellent, mind.

Mr E and his wonderful Eels are on fine eccentric form as they do their best to weird-out the Main Stage afternoon-audience. Suited in Air Force flight gear complete with sun-goggles, the flinching frontman says not a word to the crowd, instead allowing a beefed up, maraca playing security guard to communicate between each song for him. Not that this makes it any more coherent, as said guard’s outburst range from ‘Motherfucking Yes!’ to some bad Japanese, ‘Sore tabemasu ka’, almost meaning ‘Is that food?’

Sometimes acoustic, sometimes accompanied by a full string orchestra, today Eels opt for plugged in rock, and thank the lord for it. Rough and ready, ‘Dog Faced Boy’ and ‘Old Shit New Shit’ add a gritty real edge to the synthetically tailored surroundings. People don’t even spot hit single ‘Mr E’s Beautiful Blues’ until the lyrics kick in, thanks to the obscenely wonderful levels of feedback they perform it with.

Throughout their performance, their security guard performs karate moves and dance routines, and runs through the crowd giving high-fives and spraying whipped cream into people’s mouths. In a spirit of de-railing glory, they’re one of the highlights of the whole festival, ending with a high-speed run-through of ‘I Like Birds’, pre-teen popsters Smoosh, who are also performing on the Acoustic Stage, join the band to sing on the chorus, and it’s a sorry shame when the whole thing’s over.

But there’s still more to get excited about, as Chic featuring Nile Rogers are yet to start their 70’s revival headlining the Xfm stage. When they do step out, the crowd is pitiful, but as word spreads that they are the real deal and will be playing all of the Chic-megahits from the Golden Disco Era, it soon fills up.

Kitted out in whiter than white suits and boots, the ten piece band are an accomplished lot, and as they kick out classics like ‘We Are Family’ with less fanfare than a sneeze, it’s impressive to see them take such historic music in the stride and still make it sound relevant today. From Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ to their own ‘Le Freak’, the back-catalogue play-out is an apt testament of Nile Rogers’ infallible contribution to popular music. It’s also a chance for oldies in the crowd to relive their youth, and gives younger fans a chance to experience something of what the 70’s was really like.

Then a cloud looms over Hyde Park and in a freak accident, James Blunt reflects cosmic rays from space off the front of his guitar, which instantly sear burning holes through the cattle-like crowd before him. Everyone burns up and all that’s left is a sorry pile of bones and ash, before he even has a chance to play ‘You’re Beautiful'...

...or so we imagine, you didn’t really expect us to stick around to find out, did you??
review by: Alex Hoban

Wednesday 21st to Sunday 25th June 2006
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£37.50 for each day
last updated: Wed 10th May 2006

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