Wireless Festival: Various Artists
Queen Elizabeth Park, 12th-14th July 2013
Previously London’s wireless festival was based at Hyde Park but this year it moved to Queen Elizabeth Park which has been recently put the East End on the map following the London 2012 Olympics. Reviews from Hard Rock Calling, which saw Bruce Springsteen headline at the park 2 weeks ago, seem to support that the switch from West to East was one that favoured us all as it was noted that crowd control and sound quality had improved. This year’s 3 day extravaganza secured some top acts such as Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake, with each headlining a day before closing the event with a joint 2:30 hour set, which has been described as the Legends of the Summer.
The scorching heat and the acts being spread across separate stages meant that each artist had to pull out all the stops to keep the crowd going.
Friday’s show headline act, Justin Timberlake performed an incredible set, featuring his smash hits Sexy Back alongside his new material Mirrors and Tunnel Vision. Justin’s comeback single Suit and Tie featuring Jay-Z was the last track performed, which saw fans scream with joy as the pair smashed an outstanding duet to close the first night.
Saturday main stage opened with Earth, Wind & Fire. Other acts that performed were Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Miguel and Kendrick Lamar.
The remaining acts that took to the stage on Saturday were Rita Ora, Emeli Sande, before headline Jay-Z. Rita Ora opened her set with Radioactive. Backing dancers dressed in gas masks filled the stage before Rita arrived in black lycra shorts and a holographic t-shirt. Rita ditched her neat curls for a bigger frizzy look which worked well for the heat but unfortunately gave her scope for critique as the crowd said she was like a younger version of Jay-Z’s wife Beyoncé. Rita managed to sustain that crowd and even cranked up the heat at times when she got people jumping around to How We Do and RIP.
Mid set, Rita took a break for an outfit change; she strutted back on stage to sing Uneasy wearing a red raincoat! Whilst this has normally been a slick part of her set, this time she left the crowd waiting and so it didn’t come across as effectively as it had in other festival shows.
Rita’s fame kicked off when she became a ‘feat’ on DJ fresh’s track chart topping No.1 single Hot Right Now. DJ Fresh had been given an earlier slot on the main stage but had omitted the track. It was therefore no surprise that Rita welcomed them back to the stage during her set.
Next on the stage was Emeli Sande. Given her artistry as a delicate soul singer, it was interesting to see what reception her festival set would achieve. To open she sang her debut single Heaven which instantly drew in the crowd. The opening lyric ‘do you recognise me?’ was ironic as having seen her perform in small venues around the UK, it was a large transformation as she performed to a packed out festival looking slimmer than ever. The mellow vibe of Emeli’s tracks as the sun set gave the crowd the chance to capture some chill time before Jay-Z stormed in with his heavy hip-hop. Whilst Emeli’s vocals are undeniable, to be able to fully engage the crowd, she needs to lose her rocking motion that she has carried with her ever since her first ever performance.
Jay-Z took to the stage prompt at 9:30 giving the crowd a 90 minute set showcasing hit after hit. The set was filled with classics such as 99 problems, On to the Next One, Hard Knock Life and Empire State of Mind. He also performed tracks from his latest album Magna Carta Holy Grail as he explained that it had just reached no1 in 59 countries. The highlight of the night came when the crowd were greeted by the first ever live performance of Holy Grail. Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z shared the stage as they sang note perfect to a staggering 40,000 crowd.
This was instantly topped on Sunday’s Legends of Summer, when special guest Rihanna shocked the crowd with an appearance during Run this Town. It’s safe to say Jay-Z owned Wireless and whilst this is not a festival in the true sense of camping, it certainly made its mark in terms of line ups and special guests.