Published: 12 July, 2012
by ROISIN GADELRAB
IT seemed as if a slightly more sodden version of Aesop’s battle of the sun and wind – where the elements compete with full force to make a man remove his coat – raged over the Wireless skies at the weekend.
From golden rays breaking through the ashen skies at the precise moment Labrinth sang Let The Sunshine to a deluge during J Cole’s set, the weather did all it could to make it impossible for Hyde Park visitors to plan suitable clothing.
So, mostly, they didn’t. Carefully co-ordinated box-fresh white high-tops were soon swaddled in plastic shopping bags while bare-legged girls in tiny denim shorts, seemingly designed to only cover half a buttock, ended up plastered in the mud that became the theme for the latter parts of the weekend.
Friday’s more dance-oriented line-up, with Deadmau5 headlining, held some gems.
In the smaller Unwind tent, better angled this year so as not to clash so much with the main stage, Ms Dynamite – with Hollywood superstar, Entourage actor Jeremy Piven apparently in the crowd – revived some old-school garage before provoking the first dubstep frenzy of the night with Lights Out, the crowd singing every word. As formidable as ever.
Over on the main stage, Maverick Sabre’s vocal strength compensated for the fact that he seemed at times to be swamped by the vast stage with no effects. Again his more dubstep offerings seemed to liven up a more gentle set.
A magnificent Santigold managed two outfit changes during her short set, which became even more surreal when a pantomime horse bounded across the stage, while Modestep went for the crowd-pleasing option of taking “tuuuunes” and dropping a heavy dubstep bassline over each – a trick Calvin Harris mastered perfectly on the Saturday, without the dubstep part – to a crowd of proportions worthy of the main stage.
Headliner Deadmau5 took some time to warm up but as the night wore on, and the Space Invader graphics entranced, the set picked up.
By Saturday, the grass was beginning to be pounded into the soil, a change from the more arid conditions of past years, a result of the festival being brought forward to make way for Olympics events over the coming weeks.
Judging by the mid-afternoon reaction, Example could have easily taken the headline spot if he hadn’t been hampered by the age-old problem of sound system limits weakening his strongest beats.
Nicki Minaj’s bubble-gum interlude took on a Caribbean twist as she broke into a popular ragga mix jumping from Beenie Man to Sean Paul before questioning if the crowd were truly into it... they were.
We didn’t make it to The Weeknd but heard so many rave reports they ought to be noted, while headliner Drake’s infectious happy dancing proved a match for the minimalist staging, a highlight being when he dropped to his knees in respect after bringing on Nicki Minaj for Make Me Proud.
By Sunday, the grass had all but disappeared into an ever-growing quagmire, giving a mortal level of reality to Labrinth’s brilliant Earthquake, which again could have done with more bass.
Bouncy Rizzle Kicks were such a draw the VIP area was almost cleared, although it filled up again during J Cole’s set.
Over in the Pepsi Max tent, where his tunes had walls to bounce off and a crowd of similar sentiment, Calvin Harris repeated David Guetta’s feat of last year, grasping the attention away from the main stage in a rave worthy of Ibiza, playing to a crowd that sprawled well outside the tent’s wisely rolled-up edges.
Jessie J didn’t wear a one-piece as expected, but did confess she had planned to wear a catsuit until she saw the weather.
Always generous with her fans, she held good banter, sang a bit of Luther Vandross and not only brought an excitable young girl onstage to sing Price Tag but later allowed her to join her backing singers for the rest of the set.
Love or hate her, Jessie J’s strength, her ability to hold and project all manner of notes and scats, can’t be faulted for being able to cut across the feeble sound system, reaching the far corners of the park.
Contrast this with Rihanna later, who seemed to spend equal times holding her mic to the crowd as she did singing, taking the impact out of some of her most popular songs.
Luckily the audience were too devoted to notice the patchy performance and RiRi did manage to remember how to use the mic for her final few songs, ending with Umbrella – yes, they all came out – and We Found Love to a ticker tape and R-emblazoned bouncy ball finale.