Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Wireless Festival, London: 4/5/6 July 2014

Pharrell Williams - Wireless Festival: London 4/7/14
Pharrell Williams - Wireless Festival: London 4/7/14 Iggy Azalea: Wireless Festival, London - July  4/7/14 Tinie Tempah: Wireless Festival, London - July  4/7/14 Angel Haze: Wireless Festival, London - July  4/7/14 Tinie Tempah: Wireless Festival, London - July  4/7/14 Tinie Tempah: Wireless Festival, London - July  4/7/14 Pharrell Williams - Wireless Festival: London 4/7/14 Pharrell Williams - Wireless Festival: London 4/7/14 Simon Ratcliffe + Sharlene Hector (Basement Jaxx): Wireless, London 4/7/14 Sharlene Hector (Basement Jaxx): Wireless, London 4/7/14 Vula (Basement Jaxx): Wireless, London 4/7/14 Schoolboy Q - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Schoolboy Q - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Azalia Banks - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Labrinth - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Labrinth - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Labrinth - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Azalia Banks - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Azalia Banks - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Chance The Rapper - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Earl Sweatshirt - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Wizz Kalifa - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Wizz Kalifa - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com AnnMarie Nicholson (Rudimental) - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com AnnMarie Nicholson (Rudimental) - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Earl Sweatshirt - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Earl Sweatshirt - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Sean Paul - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Sean Paul - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Robin Thicke - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Robin Thicke - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com John Newman - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com J. Cole - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com J. Cole - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Outkast - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Big Boi (Outkast) - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Andre 3000 (Outkast) - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Andre 3000 (Outkast) - Wireless Festival, London: 6/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com Salt N' Pepa - Wireless Festival, London: 5/7/14 @bluesandsoul.com

"Is Kanye off on one of his rants again?" No sooner had Mr West launched into his second lengthy monologue in 24 hours, the message from a friend flashed up on my phone. The night before, the opening night of the Wireless Festival in London, the "Jesus Walks" star had taken 20 minutes out from his show to lecture the crowd on the ills of the fashion industry - the talk all day in the arena had been about whether he would do it againâ€Â¦

This time it was the media - and in particular the paparazzi - who bore the brunt of his anger as he climbed up on his soapbox. It is reasonable to say that many in the crowd weren't in the mood for a group therapy session, and the crowd noticeably thinned the longer Kanye continued talking. Which was a shame, because his rant interrupted what had been a stirring start to his show, and overshadowed what had up to that point been a great two days of music.

Bounding confidently onto the stage to "Black Skinhead" - one of the highlights from the "Yeezus" album - Kanye looked in confident form, his face hidden behind a bejewelled mask. He went on to cover crowd favourites "Power" and "Stronger", along with a medley of Drake tracks, in honour of the rapper who had been forced to cancel his Saturday night headlining slot due to illness. And those who stuck around after the rant were rewarded with performances of "Diamonds from Sierra Leone", "Jesus Walks", "Good Life", "All of the Lights" and "Bound 2", amongst others.

Yet predictably it was the diatribe which followed "Runaway" midway through the set which dominated the headlines, social media and most of the conversation as crowds headed back to Finsbury Park stationâ€Â¦It was interesting to read that the following day's rant, at the Wireless Festival in Birmingham, where he headlined on Sunday, had been cut back to five minutes. Wise move Kanyeâ€Â¦West's set, while probably the most talked-about part of the festival, was far from being the highlight.

That honour, for me, was firmly awarded to Outkast, who took to the main stage on Sunday. Kicking off their energetic set with classic track "BOB", Andre 300 and Big Boi proceeded to deliver a lively performance, which kept the crowd hyped despite a heavy burst of rain toward the end.

Charismatic and on top form, the duo have not graced a UK stage in 13 years, but there was no sign of rustiness as they launched into "Gasoline Dreams" and "ATliens".

The set, which finished with the undeniably catchy "So Fresh, So Clean" and "The Whole World", showed the hip hop veterans can still cut it alongside their younger contemporaries. And although large sections of the crowd were clearly waiting for "Hey Ya" and "Miss Jackson" - duly delivered with plenty of energy - Outkast showed there is much more to their repertoire.

One of the advantages with photographing festivals with three stages is that it means you get to get up close to the performers, and see the vast majority of the line-up onstageâ€Â¦one of the disadvantages is that you rarely get to see a performance all the way through, as you are almost constantly on the move. I should add this before I go any further.

Of the dozens of acts I saw over the course of the weekend, other highlights included Schoolboy Q, Wiz Khalifa and J Cole on the main stage, and Earl Sweatshirt and Chance The Rapper on the second stage. I was also impressed with Angel Haze, one of the first acts to perform on the Pepsi Max stage on the Friday. Her flow was tight and she engaged well with the audience, leaping from the stage to be closer to her fans.

Another act I was surprised with was Tinie Tempah. He worked the stage well, and had thousands of fans bouncing when he performed "Tsunami", a track that worked incredibly well in such a large outdoor arena.

Likewise Pharrell Williams' set, with singalong tracks like "Get Lucky" and "Happy" tailor-made for the sunny opening day of the festival. He put on an impressive performance, with a small army of dressing-gown-clad female dancers adding to the spectacle.

Iggy Azaelia put in a strong case to show why she is fast becoming one of the best-known female rappers in the world, and Rudimental delivered a fun show which saw dancing fans fill the main arena in Finsbury Park.

Basement Jaxx were a highlight on the second stage, delivering a fantastic headline slot on Friday night. They may have been around for the best part of 20 years, but they still sound fresh, and had the crowd moving with a feel good show to finish a great opening day of music.

The weekend drew to a close with a performance by Sunday headliner Bruno Mars, complete with fireworks and lasers. A lively performance, and a fitting end to a weekend which had seen a strong line-up wow the North London crowds.

Kanye's rants may have grabbed the headlines, but there was far more to this festival, with superb performances across the board.
The Finsbury Park arena was packed for the weekend, and firmly establishes the event as one of the UK's top music festivals.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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