Sunday review

Wireless 2008 overview

published: Wed 9th Jul 2008

Counting Crows (2)

Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th July 2008
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
one day £45 - for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday
last updated: Mon 7th Jul 2008

It's the final day of the fourth ever Wireless festival in Hyde Park, Central London, and after three days of holding off, the heavens have finally opened to drench those in attendance. Not that this dampens the spirits of main stage openers Magic Christian who, with a guitarist that looks like John Lennon, a singer that clearly aspires to be Mick Jagger and Blondie's former drummer all in tow, seem to have total faith in their potential as stadium-fillers. Unfortunately, their music doesn’t quite match up to their own confidence on stage, and the result is a mildly amusing but underwhelming performance.

Eddy Grant and His Frontline Orchestra

Eddy Grant on the other hand is a wholly different proposition. As soon as his backing band hits the stage the sun miraculously appears and remains throughout the rest of his set – a bombastic selection of timeless reggae hits that get the crowd bobbing as only Jamaican music can. 'Electric Avenue', 'Gimme Hope Jo'anna' and of course 'I Don't Want To Dance' all feature, but it is lost gems such as 'Killer On The Rampage' which provide the most truly spine-tingling moments.

Goo Goo Dolls fail to capture the same party atmosphere, but they are by no means a let down, as their long-established alt-rock goes down a treat with the flourishing crowd.

It is unfortunate that the sun continues to play a sky-clad tango with the ever-threatening rain clouds for the rest of the afternoon, as the hotter spells seem to really lift the atmosphere. Despite this, it soon becomes clear that Wireless has become a real hit with Londoners, as flocks of welly-clad teenie boppers and indie kids continue to make their way into Hyde Park, regardless of the weather. Whilst food and drink prices are even more expensive than the usual festival fare, there is a great diversity of cuisine available, and it is difficult to imagine that there are many other non-camping events that manage to create the kind of ambience that Glastonbury and Reading have had nailed down for decades so well.


One sudden burst of rain sees hordes of festival goers flock to the second stage where Delays attempt to make their mark in a genre that is inundated with generic, forgettable indie acts. Their music is nothing special - Killers-esque pop-rock made slightly noteworthy by vocalist Greg Gilbert's impressive falsetto – but they are an energetic live act that make the best of their audience while it remains hidden from the outside downpour.

Not long after, singer-songwriter Amy Studt does her best to battle the racket from Powderfinger as she takes to the tiny open air O2 stage, but the Aussie rockers completely undermine her delicate sound with their brash delivery, and she is almost lost beneath the din. No fault of her own mind; placing the platform within hearing distance of its main stage counterpart is a ridiculous move on behalf of the organisers. Better luck next time Amy.

Bowling For Soup

Bowling For Soup arrive on the second stage accompanied by Mötley Crüe's 'Wild Side', which is by the far the best piece of music to grace their set. Nonetheless, they are great fun, and supply more than a few laughs during their ridiculously light pop punk shenanigans which include, amongst other things, a ludicrous Britney Spears cover.

Back over on the main stage, a far more serious Ben Harper gives one of the more soulful, bluesy performances of the day, with a stirring selection of funk-induced numbers that receive some of the biggest crowd responses of the whole evening.

These responses seem to only get bigger by the time Counting Crows arrive to kick off a rare headlining slot. Compared to the hip hop glam of Jay Z, the megastar DJ status of Fatboy Slim and the legend tag commanded by Morrissey, Counting Crows are by far the most understated headliner to play the festival this year, but you wouldn’t have known it from the number of spectators they attract.

Counting Crows (2)

Naturally singles such as 'Mr. Jones' draw the largest cheers of the evening, but every song played is a joy to behold as frontman Adam Duritz bobs and weaves through the evening. The passion he holds for his music is as present as ever, and it is happily replicated by his captive audience. An emotionally-charged end to an interesting afternoon, and another surefire sign that this festival's presence is assured for some time yet.
review by: Merlin Alderslade

photos by: Ben Statham

Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th July 2008
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
one day £45 - for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday
last updated: Mon 7th Jul 2008

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