Justin Timberlake joins Jay-Z on stage for a surprise Saturday appearance at Wireless

Wireles 2013 review

published: Fri 19th Jul 2013

around the festival site

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2013
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 2ST, England MAP
Sunday only £75
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Tue 2nd Jul 2013

I have been to Wireless Festival frequently so I was particularly interested in seeing what the new site would be like in comparison to the previous Hyde Park setup.

The three day event was taking place at the Olympic venue of Stratford's Queen Elizabeth Park.

We went to Hackney Wick station to avoid crowds, only to find the festival was not signposted at all from there so we were halfway to the park's main entrance when we were told we had to turn back and go in a different direction...  I'd strongly recommend you follow the crowds although be warned that the walk from Stratford station is truly a trek.

The festival's emphasis is on mainly urban, high profile, international acts so if you’re looking for non musical entertainment, tough luck, although there were a few exciting attractions including a high zip wire line, however at one point we saw an unfortunate man dangling from it gesturing in frustration, as the sun beat down on his bare back and he waited to be released.

Firstly I saw Naughty Boy aka Sam Smith. Sam himself has an understated presence – staying firmly behind his decks, never communicating with the crowd. The talking was provided by his energetic female MC, who also sung on many of his tracks with a powerful soul voice.

Highlights included a slowed down, tropical sounding version of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' and Emeli Sandé making a surprise appearance to perform her newest collab hit with him, 'Lifted'.

Quirky American duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis hit the mainstage with Ryan declaring “For the next 35 minutes we will power through the heat. We will embrace the sweat!”

Despite the sweltering temperature Macklemore was wearing a red suit with an Elton John-esque flowery jacket whilst Ryan Lewis commanded the audience with constant chatter between tracks, sometimes veering off into incomprehension but nonetheless holding our attention.

He gave a particularly long and passionate speech about equality and gay rights; the set ended with their roof-raising hit 'Can't Hold Us' which had the crowd bouncing about in the sunshine.

R'n'B smoothie Miguel delivered what I can only describe (as a fan) as a surprisingly odd set. Known for his slow rhythms and smooth jams Miguel came with full rock band, dressed in ripped jeans and heeled boots and launched into a set backed by thrashing guitars and rock n’ roll beats.

He seemed a bit disconnected from the band at times, almost struggling to keep up with them, and when talking to the audience it was often hard to hear him properly.

However it cannot be denied that his voice is really strong live and he has a great range hitting the highest of notes effortlessly.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar followed in what turned out to be a surprisingly fantastic wild card performance. He commanded the stage throughout with an excellent hype man getting the crowd excited and I spoke to many people who had no idea who he was before but were completely won over by his performance.

Hardcore fans were in their element rapping and singing along to his tracks and for the first time I'd seen that day the main stage performer's presence filled the park; he interacted with the crowd really well feeding off them and his whole band was rhythmically strong.

A quick stop at the Jager tent for a Jager and ginger ale – unfortunately no Jagerbombs but I appreciate selling shots at a festival is probably not the best way to go.

I was particularly excited to see Calvin Harris as I had seen him at Wireless a few years earlier and it had been one of the highlight elevating performances.

Perched on the Pepsi Max stage he launched into his set with strobes, confetti and lasers alike in the show-stopping style he does so well. The temperature in the packed tent was excessive but there was a great vibe.

Calvin delivered tune after tune but I couldn't understand why he wasn't given a main stage spot as he had previously, as he would have easily filled the space and the fans would have had more room to manoeuvre.

It would be fruitless to list all the tracks he played as it was a long set of hits. Tracks that particularly had the tent shaking and arms flailing, regardless of the stifling heat, were 'Feel So Close' and 'Bounce', where I can only describe the crowd as going really quite mad. All in all it was quite an epic set regardless of staging.

Jay-Z packed out the mainstage area. Having seen him perform a few times I wasn't expecting any surprises but I was wrong. Fatherhood is clearly treating Jigga well as he gave one of the best performances I've seen him do.

Surrounded by a big band he beamed throughout making cheeky jokes with the crowd and band members and effortlessly going from hit to hit like the seasoned pro he is. He definitely knows how to work the crowd and was giving out an uplifting vibe, which was bounced right back.

He played a selection of his hits across his albums throwing in surprises such as his duet with Beyonce '03 Bonnie and Clyde'. He also referenced Beyonce in a tongue and cheek way at a few points in his show – he was truly the epitome of a man that is loving life.

The final surprise to an incredible set was the appearance of Justin Timberlake to duet from Jay-Z's newest album. The two moulded together perfectly onstage with Justin reminding us of his dulcet tones.

The uplifting performance ended with Jay-Z declaring, “I wanna thank everyone of you for coming out. I feel beautiful.”


review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Fiona Madden

Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2013
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 2ST, England MAP
Sunday only £75
daily capacity: 50000
last updated: Tue 2nd Jul 2013


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