Sunday, July 04, 2010

Jay-Z worship in Hyde Park

From Wireless 2010 - Sunday - Jay-Z

I chose to miss day 2 of Wireless 2010 – even for me, with my policy of going to events if I’d at least heard of the headliners, none of the line up of sound systems and DJs really appealed – and as it turned out it was a good choice as I managed to get tickets to Wimbledon on the Saturday for Centre Court and the women’s final.

So Sunday on what looked like it would be another baking day I headed for Hyde Park. A “VIP ticket” meant no queuing for me – and there wasn’t even a short queue at the queue jumpers entrance – Jay-Z’s fans can’t be early risers – on Friday there had been 40 or so people at the entrance for P!nk’s day in the park. Despite the queue jumping on my part, some of those that queued all morning made it to the front of the main stage before me – I didn’t begrudge them – I was closer than I’d been on Friday…

The music started with three acts I’d never heard of – Bluey Robinson, Mr Hudson and Roll Deep. None of the made any real impression and I won’t be looking for any of them headlining their own event!

I Am Chipmunk was the first act I’d heard of before the event – and while Dizzee Rascal had brought me round to rap, when he co-headlined at the O2 with Lily Allen, with the skill that went into making a stream of words musical, this was no where near as polished.

Next came Slash – he was one of the two acts I was particularly looking forward to, along with Lily Allen. It had been surprising to see his name on the line up, as it didn’t fit with the general Rap/R&B  theme of the day, or on the undercard of a Jay-Z headliner…

In fact, Slash’s set was the most impressive on the undercard. Despite it definitely not being “his” audience, he worked the crowd – used the full extend of the stage – even some parts that I’m fairly sure the promoter hadn’t intended him to… Hyde park was rocking hard.

Then came Friendly Fires – they really shouldn’t have bothered! They may have been Mercury Prize nominated – but their stage act appear to consist of their lead singer “dad dancing”. The introduction of a number of carnival dancers at the end of the set significantly improved the eye candy on the stage – but I’m not sure why they where there!

Unfortunately as a reaction to Friendly Fires failure to engage the crowd, some of them chose to entertain themselves by throwing bottles. It wasn’t too bad when they where empty, but when they started throwing half full ones, which usually failed to empty their contents as indented on to people before they landed, they left number of people with rather nasty bumps on the backs of their heads… I’d seen this sort of self entertainment at Wembley for Oasis – then it was plastic glasses – which, while it wasn’t pleasant to be covered in beer – at least where always empty by the time the returned to crowd level!

The final act before the headliner was Lilly Allen. A name that hadn’t seamed to fitted in the theme of the day – but was the main reason I’d come. This would probably be her last London gig for quite a time – at least if her statements about giving up music where to be believed.

Many of those around me where making comments about going to other stages, if that hadn’t meant giving up there hard earned place at the front.

After admonishing those in the audience still throwing bottles, she dedicated “Fuck You” to them, rather than a more political target – which went down very well with those in the landing areas for the bottles!

The appearance of Professor Green for “just be Good to Green” did fit with the theme of the day and when down well. By the end of the set she’d definitely won round most of the doubters. 

For the first time  when I’ve seen Lily play, she wasn’t chain smoking or supping a glass of wine – and this time smoking on stage wouldn’t have been breaking the no-smoking indoors laws. Maybe the rumours of her pregnancy or attempts to get pregnant are true.

Then the wait for Jay-Z began, and it became clear that the audience for P!nk was much more respectful of others than this one. It started with a small group of lads claiming to be “joining friend”, but they soon started to take liberties as 20+ large black guys force their way to the front. They weren't satisfied with being just close to the front – they clearly believed they had the right to be at the very front – and in the crush it was hard to stop them. It was a real shame security, who had been giving drinks to those at the front all day, so knew who had been there all day, didn’t appear to want to do anything about it. While it was good that there was no golden circle so those at the front of the mass queue stood an equal chance of a front row view as those that had paid a little more to avoid queuing – promoters of these sort of events need to come up with a system to prevent people muscling their way to the fount. A few of the younger girls at the front gave up their well earned positions because they couldn’t take the crush, needing to be extracted over the barriers…

After a long await – which included a crowd surge when people thought they’d seen BeyoncĂ© making her way to the two storey construction in the middle of the crowd that housed the control desks, and a 5 minute count down clock – Jay-Z  made his appearance and the reason most of the crowd where there began.

Jay-Z certainly had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. I’ve not been in the presence of celebrity worship before – but I think this certainly qualified.

The combination of the fanatical atmosphere and a great show from Jay-Z was an uplifting experience. Jay-Z renewed my appreciation of the skill that goes into this musical form.

A couple of great days in the sunshine immersed in great atmosphere and music..

So I’ve ticked off “attend a festival” from the list of thing to do before my 40th – with a concession to my aversion to long queues and a soft bed at night rather than a tent. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll do it again – it was a very long time standing in the same place – I’m not sure my knees will be fully recovered for a while.

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