Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1088

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Sam Sparrow: o2 Wireless Festival
Sam Sparrow: o2 Wireless Festival Bootsy Collins: @ The o2 Wireless Festival Robyn Akala:  @ o2 Wireless Festival Bootsy Collins: @ The o2 Wireless Festival Sam Sparrow: o2 Wireless Festival Dan Le Sac: @ o2 Wireless Festival

Saturday 5th July...

___________________FATBOY SLIM- (Headline Act)_____________________

As headliner for Saturday Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim got the party going and belied any notion that one man and his decks could not put on a thoroughly entertaining show.

Strolling onto stage to the sounds of 'World of Pure Imagination' he did not take long to get behind the deck and crank up the tunes starting with a remixed version of 'Praise You'. To stunning lighting effects that included neon arrows, flashing squares and grids and clips taken from Fat Boy Slims videos, he delighted the crowd with an original hour and a half set in which there were many memorable moments.

His version of Thriller was cleverly worked into 'Work it Out' and he reprised the lyrics from the Dans le Sac V Scroobius Pipâs (see review) 'Thou shalt kill' getting to crowd to sing âNorman Cook â¦.. Just a bandâ. Then there was an impressive video of Iggy Pop performing a slowed down lip sync. A remixed 'Lazy' using David Byrne vocals had many sections of the audience moving and a-grooving. Throughout, Cook looked like a delighted schoolboy and seemed pleased as punch to be there. With as his trademark hand rolls and bounces he was almost conducting the crowd, whipping up the atmosphere at the right moments. At times, he even left his deck and just stood beaming at the crowd or sat with legs dangling at the edge of the stage. The mixing up of the Rolling Stones 'Canât get no satisfaction' with 'Rockerfeller Skank' was superb and proved very popular. However, the highlight was the last number â a reworking of Arcade Fire tune 'No Cars Go.' This crowd pleaser sent most people away blissfully happy. An excellent show.

_________________________SAM SPARROW__________________________

Sam Sparro made a lasting impression on the Wireless festival this year as much for his techni-coloured outfit as for his electro-disco tunes.

Backed by a full band and 3 powerful backing singers and kicking off his set with new single '21st Century life', he wowed the crowd in the tented SanDisk stage area. As well as his own material from his self-titled debut album, he performed a mini- medley of late 80âs / early nineties that included Black Boxâs 'Ride on Time' and Crystal Waters 'Gypsy Woman' sent the atmosphere pulsating.

Sam rounded off a quality 30 minute gig with the hit single of this Spring, namely 'Black and Gold' which virtually everyone sang and which set in motion some pretty wild and wiggly dancing.


Back on the main stage in the fine late afternoon weather Bootsy Collins bought rays of sunshine of his own to now massed crowds for a James Brown tribute. Assembled there with him were other musicians closely associated with Brown such as drummer John âJaboâ Starks and Bootsyâs brother Phelps âCatfishâ Collins on guitar.

But prior to the actual tribute itself a number of classic soul tracks were introduced into the set with a guest appearance from Vicki Anderson who covered Aretha Franklinâs 'Respect'. Vocalist Tony Wilson did a remarkable job of mimicking Brownâs voice and stage movements as the band ran through such classics as 'Sex Machine' and 'Papaâs got a brand new bag' while pockets of the crowd swayed and wiggled gently to the music. Bootsy himself was content to remain largely in the background (as much as that is possible wearing a bright red feather-plumed hat) acting as anchor man for the show.


Strikingly blonde Swedish Dance-pop singer Robyn reprised her set from lastâs year 2007 Wireless festival where she had opened the festival. Then, the 2007 festival was her biggest in the UK, representing a breakthrough and provided a launch pad for a successful year including a number UK single 'With every heartbeat' and a top 20 album.

So, it was interesting to witness how she had developed as a performer in that year. Always well styled and looking uber-cool with her indie-styled haircut, figure hugging short black leather jacket and white leggings, she moved and swayed enticingly around the mike as she ran through tracks from the self titled album. She gave off plenty of (positive) attitude during 'Konitchiwa Bitches', 'Bum like You' and 'Handle Me' but there were softer more soulful moments, with, for example, recent single Whoâs that Girl and the uplifting 'Dream On'. All in all, a very agreeable performance if somewhat overpowered by excessive bass on the truck sized speakers.


Over on the SanDisk stage, Underworld was the headliner. Their popularity was self-evident. The tent became packed to the rafters to the extent that many were forced to listen outside. This was a shame as those unlucky enough to be denied entry could only glimpse the unfolding cinematic and special effect spectacular that provided the backdrop to the pulsating throbbing techno fest, much of which came from recent album 'Oblivion with Bells.' The climax, of course was anthem 'Born Slippy.'

___________________DANS LE SAC v SROOBSBIUS PIP__________________

In the same tent 20 minutes hailing from Stanford Le Hope, Essex there followed the idiosyncratic Dans le Sac v Scroobius Pip. Dans le Sac is the beat and rhythm meister DJ mixing up melody, electronica and rock riffs with the distinctly bearded Mr. Pip providing intelligent rap with observations on everyday life, at times philosophical and occasionally bordering on the anarchical.

Scroobius Pipâs use of props was impressive as he produced an actual periodic table during 'Development' whose lyrics to start run through the chemical elements mid way through the song. In addition during 'Thou shalt kill' he wielded a mock bible looking like an evangelical priest as he ran through the multiple commandments of what not to do in everyday life. These felt as if they may border on the autobiographical but the message was essentially to think about your choices and not follow the crowd. And when they came to the part about adulating musicians and rock bands, after reading out the names of famous bands, singers and DJâs he got the crowd chanting, as each name was rapped out - 'Just a band.' The gig was pure poetry.

_____________________________THE WHIP____________________________

The sun greeted the festival on Saturday and would remain around for the day making for a much nicer atmosphere. The fine weather and a slighter younger audience demographic combined to invigorate the festival. This was certainly the case with Manchester electro dance group The Whip whose astonishing performance on the Sandisk stage at 2:30pm produced a sea of moving and bouncing bodies.

One fairly large member of the audience did rolling surf and was lead out by security. Energy levels were astronomically high, especially amongst the considerable teenage element. The sound levels were cranked to the max as the thumping electro beat pulsated to the somewhat dark lyrics of tracks of 'Throw it in the Fire,' 'Blackout,' and âFrustrationâ. During the last song âTrashâ the gig reached fever pitch and what was seemed like a 30 minutes gig turned into a lifetime. Although the whole band were excellent, special mention must be made of the Whip female drummer Lil Fee who beavered away furiously in the background like a champion knocking out those sensational beats. This gig was one for the young and young at heart. In one word â fantastic.


One of the finds of the festival was surely the MOBO award winning hip-hop and grime artist named Akala from East London aka Kingslee Daley who performed a set on the open plan pocket size O2 stage.

A quality performance throughout that included the trance like 'Bit by Bit' and the sexy grimy politically tinged 'Electrolivin' but the climax was undoubtedly the rapid fire 'Comedy Tragedy, History,' backed with a suitably dramatic string sound, in which he managed to squeeze in references to all the Shakespeare plays.â¨

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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