Hylands Park, 17-18th July 2013
Every year festival-goers flock to either Hylands Park or Weston Park for a weekend of live music across a wide range of genres. The event shares the same bill at each park; artists perform one location on the Saturday and then switch to the other park on the Sunday.
Hylands Park, Chelmsford was the first to see Beyoncé headline. Mrs Carter brought her World tour to the UK in April this year but high demand meant many fans lost out. Vfestival was the lifeline all Beyoncé fans dreamed off. Tour had fans so hungry that many didn’t move from the Virgin Media Stage all day. Some other acts on this stage were Paloma Faith, Jessie J and The Script.
Do it like a dude singer Jessie J took to the main stage wearing a black and white raunchy number showing off her toned abs. Pleased to be back in her hometown, Jessie thanked fans for their continued support over the last two years and announced that her album was called Alive, out 23rd September. Jessie J went on to treat fans to an exclusive first performance of her latest single It’s my Party and Excuse my Rude. An alternative, slowed down version of Nobody’s Perfect left fans remembering how much emotionally engaging her music can be, and what fans would love to see more of. There is no denying the lungs on this girl but she sells herself shorter than her buzz cut with this disappointing commercial pop.
The Script gave a predictable set of classics such as We Cry, For the First Time and Man Who Cant be moved. Mid set, surprise guest, Labrinth performed Earthquake. With no relevance to The Script, this random addition seemed oddly placed for such a high-billed slot. Frontman Danny O’Donoghue tried to save what was a flat-set of lazy vocals by spending countless moments in the crowd. However, no amount of interaction could rally up hype of previous act, Jessie J.
The eager crowd waiting patiently for her arrival while her crew mopping the stage. The intermittent showers led to Mrs Carter using longer versions of the same visuals used on tour to hide the breaks in between her set. Individually Beyoncé offered a slick and polished performance of every song, bashing out effortless choreographed dancing to Run the World, Crazy in Love and Love on Top, but overall the frequent costume changes and the wait between each song meant the show became disjointed. Overall, the show didn’t live up to tour and brought disappointment that fans didn’t get a spectacle like her festival performance at Glasto 2011.
Day two offered a more relaxed vibe, as temperatures crept into the early 20s. The beer was flowing, the ice creams were on tap as festival-goers moved from stage to stage to see acts such as Lawson, The Saturdays, Rudimental, Rita Ora and Ellie Goulding. Opening the 4Music stage, boy band Lawson pulled in a strong crowd for such an early slot, performing tracks from their debut album Chapman Square. The set included, debut single When She Was Mine which charted at No4 and their latest single Brokenhearted. These boys have a promising future as they are set to hit the road again for their 5th headline tour in October. With oodles of banter and soothing vocals from lead singer Andy Brown, this band will pull on your heartstrings!
Topping the charts earlier this year, Rudimental were definitely one of the bands to watch. Arriving on stage with Rudimental was BBC 2012 The Voice contestant Becky Hill. Although Becky’s vocals only appear on the album during Powerless, Becky did a remarkable job at making the all the tracks seem as though they were originally hers. Together Rudimental and Becky were the slickest combo to have come together in decades. In true festival style it was at this point that bottles were being thrown; arms were in full swing and people were on shoulders! It is obvious that come rain or shine, this band will always pull in a reception of mass ravers who wanna dance their wellies off!
Having scored her first ever UK no1 this week Burn, Ellie Goulding’s set was one not to be missed. Kicking off her set at the same time as the official chart, it was a piece of Ellie history for all those in the Arena tent on Sunday. Humble and with little fuss, Ellie was presented with a shot to take with all her band before she proceeded on with her set. Highlights included an emotional rendition of Elton John’s Your Song which got every single member of the crowd singing back the words. To pick up the mood Ellie switched it up with an electric, super-sharp performance of I need your love. This VMA nominated collaboration featuring Calvin Harris set the crowd into a mass work-out as they all jumped in unison.
Quickly darting back to the 4music to catch Rita Ora, she did not disappoint as she bashed chart topping favourites RIP and How We Do from her self-titled album ORA. Dressed in a metallic miniskirt and matching crop top, she bounced around the stage in all her glory. Perfectly timed for sunset, Rita performed one her of most personal tracks, Shine Your Light as everyone reached for their phones, making this the most picturesque moment of the day. This festival circuit has definitely pushed Rita’s boundaries and as an artist she is coming into her own just in time for album two.
It was a tough call; between heartthrob Calvin Harris or headliners rock band KOL but Caleb won, stealing the show with timeless rock anthems Knocked Up, Sex and Fire and Use Somebody. The weekend was filled with exceptional talent, was well thought out and in August 2014 it shall all be happening again with a high standard to beat! See you next year Vfestival!