the long-awaited performance from Kanye West

Wireless 2009 review

published: Thu 9th Jul 2009

around the festival site (2)

Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th July 2009
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£45 for Saturday, Sunday early bird £40
last updated: Mon 8th Jun 2009

There was a great feeling at Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon, as all colours, creeds, sexes, and ages came together in anticipation of the much talked about performance from overseas, in the shape of Kanye West.

around the festival site (2)
Whereas there had been mixed feelings of whom people were looking forward to seeing the day before, it seemed that everyone was definitely there for Mr West on the Sunday. There also appeared to be more joviality in the air, as more costumes came out and lots more shapes were being thrown by happy dancers in the tents and park alike.

Unfortunately, I managed to just miss Noisettes set, which had apparently gone down a treat with the audience but I managed to catch the next act due on the main stage, who were N-Dubz. I was pleasantly surprised as I realised that this trio are extremely professional with Tulisa and Dappy providing extremely strong vocals to their raw and real-life lyrics.

Dappy, sporting a trademark floppy black beanie hat, had great stage presence as the whole trio danced and bounded about, directing their performance to all areas of the crowd at different times, laced with extremely high energy. Near the end of their set, Dappy jumped down in front of the first row of the crowd and declared "Thank you. Without you lot, we'd be a piece of nothing." The quality of their music was actually among the best we had heard at the festival too, as their drummer and bass guitarist played brilliantly sending the bass rocking through the crowd’s bodies.

However, the underlying problem with the sound system on the main stage was still very apparent, as the further back the crowd got, the less easy it was to hear the performances throughout the day.

Calvin Harris, the next act on the main stage, managed to deliver a great set nonetheless. Not being a big talker or mover, there was nothing that really jumped out about the performance except that it was definitely value for money, as he played through his dance tunes, managing to even prompt the 'seated' viewers to get up and have a dance. All his tunes filled up the park and went down brilliantly, especially his new summery single 'Ready For the Weekend'.

Next up on the main stage were Britain's Got Talent winners, Diversity, who had a surprisingly large fan base among the audience, while they all seemed genuinely overwhelmed in awe of being on stage mere hours before American star, Kanye West. Unfortunately the boys only did one dance routine, which was impeccable, and it was an extended version of the dance routine they had used to win the reality television show. However, it was still amazingly choreographed and performed, and from the screams in the audience, it was clear that they had a strong female fan base behind them!

around the festival site (1)
As I took a walk around the site, I couldn't help but feel that the 'Wireless' crew could have laid on a tad more entertainment, as there were a lot of vast empty patches of grass. The man-made beach that they had advertised online and the Victorian funfair were slightly disappointing.

The beach was a very small patch of enclosed area filled with sand, a handful of deck chairs and a few novelty items that punters were taking photo's with – a human sized bucket and spade, a plastic donkey, and a seaside board that you could put your faces through.

The term 'funfair' had been used very loosely considering it consisted of a couple of rides, including a smallish carousel. For the young at heart, there was the opportunity to buy 'Big Kid Vouchers', which gave you access to a sticky Velcro wall, a bungee run, and the competitive Gladiator – style pummel stick game on raised inflatable platforms. It was mainly children that took advantage of this but it was a great addition for the many kids who had been dragged along to this musical day out by their parents.

Other activities around site included 20 minute Speed Dating sessions for those looking for something a bit more than music, and the opportunity to play giant Jenga or Connect 4, or simply just to relax in a hammock in small fenced off chill-out areas.

While wandering around site, I managed to catch Alesha Dixon's full set, which was slightly average to say the least. Dixon can definitely shake her body and dance how most girls would dream to, which was a blessing because watching her cavort across stage took away from the fact that her songs and singing performance were not really that special. She also played a couple of songs by her ex-band, Mystique, including 'Scandalous' and 'All I want', which appeared to go down with the crowd better than her own inventions. However, she did appear to have a fan base of young teenage girls who were up dancing throughout her performance and clearly having the time of their lives.
Mr Hudson
The next performance I managed to catch started quite a lot later than scheduled, due to technical difficulties with the sound on stage, which appeared to take quite a while to sort out. This led to the performance being shorter than planned, which was a travesty because Mr Hudson delivered a vocally strong and tuneful set.

He opened his delayed set with the ever tuneful 'Ask the DJ' and went on to play a mixture of his classic and new songs. Unfortunately, although he apologised profusely for the delay, he was forced to rush through his set openly admitting he was missing out songs, and only managed to play 7 tunes to the excited crowd. There was definitely an audience for it though, as the Tuborg tent was filled with a small but excited throng of clear Hudson followers shouting out their appreciation and creating great atmosphere by swaying and singing along to his already released tunes. His early retirement from the stage led to the pumped up crowd cheering for him to come back on, to no avail.

Then it was the big one: the rest of Wireless festival was very sparse, as music-heads gathered together filling up far to the back of the park, as Kanye West's much anticipated performance was set to begin.

West's arrival on stage was met with rapturous cheering and applause from the colossal crowd, as he jumped into his first tune. The stage around him was extravagantly decorated with his own 'luxurious' style of set design, including crystals adorning the backdrop, monitors and speakers.

The set got off to a slow start, as the first handful of songs clearly delighted the hardcore fans who knew the lyrics, but the lack of stage presence from West made it all feel a bit flat. However, as he progressed, the show seemed to kick off to a livelier feel and the stationary watchers in the crowd kicked into action too.

At one point, West was joined onstage by four exotic-looking topless dancers, covered in gold paint, who sat around him like statues during his heartfelt performance of 'Tell Everybody That You Know'. They stayed onstage with him and danced during the majority of the rest of his songs.

Unfortunately, the ongoing sound problems from the main stage was still a problem as it was hard at times to make out West over the crowd noise but the tempo reached its first climax when he played 'Gold Digger' and his hit with Estelle, 'American Boy'. The latter proved to be a great performance from him even though he sung it solo.

The evening reached its final climax when the hip hop performer sincerely thanked the audience for having him there, saying "Thank you for accepting me for me", and launched into a crowd-rocking version of his hit, 'Stronger'. There was definitely a general buzz of excitement and joy at Kanye West's set but it just didn't seem to produce as much as a vibe or the immense 'festival' feeling that Basement Jaxx had produced the night before. However, as everyone headed home, most people seemed to be in high spirits and had definitely had an amazing 'Wireless' experience.
review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Fiona Madden

Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th July 2009
Hyde Park, London, W2 2UH, England MAP
£45 for Saturday, Sunday early bird £40
last updated: Mon 8th Jun 2009

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