Kerry Mason finds Wireless a little top-heavy in its billing but there are some great sets to be found amongst a field of overt advertising.
Overall – 6.5/10
Wireless has a history of packing some punches - White Stripes, Basement Jaxx, The Strokes, Daft Punk and Kanye West have played in the past - and this year is no exception with Jay-Z returning for a second bout and Pink and LCD Soundsystem headlining too. It’s a premium and varied mix offering something for everyone and with the three-day event taking place in London’s Hyde Park, rather than a hidden away field, everything is very clean, well organised and with a hint of glamour.
However, when a festival relies on its big names alone to pull it through, you can’t help feel a little disappointed. Now in its sixth year, and still finding its feet, Wireless has little to offer for those seeking that ‘festival experience’. It has no real identity to it and overall it feels a little disjointed. Perhaps it’s more suited to those wanting to dip their toes in the festival pool.
Getting there and back – 10/10
Getting there and back is incredibly easy and faultless during the weekend. With the event in Central London there is the choice of over ground trains, underground tube lines, taxis and buses. Extra trains are running without delays, entrance to the site is very clearly posted and very patient police expertly handled any congestion when the night was over.
The Site - 6/10
There are three stages plus a bandstand offering newcomers the chance to shine. The site is very clean thanks to a team of cleaners who work all day and the sunshine allows plenty of grassy spots to rest your rump.
The food stalls are typical of any festival but there’s a nice beer garden with benches to enjoy. Wireless can be proud of its toilets, which are spotless even by the third day! There are loos a-plenty, including luxury loos, with very little queuing to be done. The same goes for the bars, there are two on site and each are expertly managed by some strapping security. And for those who want to give their eardrums a break a fairground awaits at the back of the park. ?
However, the site loses marks on being a bit cramped; the site is very small, especially as there’s no camping, so there’s a very fine line when differentiating the sounds coming from the stages. Just a tad bigger next year please, there’s nothing worse than being within earshot of two stages.
Atmosphere – 3.5/10
Perhaps it’s the lack of camping that means Wireless lacks a sense of community and togetherness, which for many is what makes a festival. Each day sees a brand new batch of people coming through the gates, and whilst this is largely due to the somewhat strange line up, it means that that festival spirit is never really captured. Bizarrely a Premier model competition, Superdrug/Tigi make-overs and an Ugg boot catwalk are on offer as entertainment – however, openly rearing its corporate head like this does the atmosphere no favours.?
And with the bar only serving bottles, each crowd takes a battering from flying plastics full of a cocktail of cider and bodily fluids. Even Lily Allen notes that it is worse than normal. Top marks for the mini Slash though, the only fancy dress VF sees all weekend.
Music – 7.5/10
Most of the acts are either new, currently bothering the charts or have done so for many years – a winning formula for so many festivals. But the likes of the Gossip, Bowling For Soup and The Ting Tings are still riding high on one successful album/song from three/four years ago and inexplicably clog up the main stage on Friday, while contemporary artists such as Plan B, Tinie Tempah and Chase and Status are given the smaller stages in the tents, yet prove seam-bustlingly popular. Confusingly, many of the acts fit into the urban genre, not that this is a bad thing, but it does advertise itself as “the biggest and best of today’s dance, pop and rock acts.” Still, it does boast some very credible and popular artists.
Jay-Z – 10/10
The golden boy of hip-hop proves once again he can do no wrong. Rip-roaring through a selection of old and new it’s easy to forget just how many songs you know. His full-blown live band is as enthusiastic as he is, and a fantastic stage setting NYC skyline made from 3D screens is both atmospheric and stunning. A gifted and grateful performer, he clearly enjoys the gig as much as we do. Mr Hudson and J Cole make guest appearances, although Jay-Z is of such stature on stage, you wouldn’t miss them if they didn’t.
P!nk - 10/10
Surprisingly exhilarating, P!nk is an excellent entertainer. A full band, fun backing singers, kitsch dancers, a circus theme and death defying acrobatics from the leading lady mean the party is well and truly started with no signs of letting up. An impressive 24-song set includes a mash up of The Who’s ‘My Generation’ and Greenday’s ‘Basket Case’, plus a cover of Four Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Going On’, providing some wonderful interaction with the audience.
Friendly Fires - 8/10
Pitch perfect and energetic. Lead singer Ed Macfarlane injects some much-needed oomph into the crowd with his electric dancing and electro tinged beats. Bright carnival dancers and some hefty marching percussion make their performance that little extra special.
Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip - 7/10
The hip-hop/electronic duo are touting their second album, which according to this gig, is infected with a good dose of drum and bass. As ever, the pair combing powerful lyrics, stomping beats and simple, yet effective visuals to create a set the crowd go wild for. Scroobius Pip spits his lyrics with such conviction it’s hard not to get sucked into the world he creates. New tracks ‘Sick Tonight’ and ‘Get Better’ ensure their much-practised set has a little more life left in it.
Lily Allen/ Autokratz – 7/10
Confirming an indefinite hiatus, Miss Allen reminds what will be missing with an effortlessly cool and cheeky performance. Completely accessible, she giggles and flirts her way through the set. A drum and bass transformation of ‘Smile’ and guest collaborator, Professor Green whip the crowd into a frenzy right in time for Jay Z. On the flip side, Autokratz are a brazen force. Punishing beats and angry guitars thrill the crowd into a sweaty, pumping mess. Good going for a difficult early afternoon billing.
Missy Elliot – 2/10
Much anticipated, one of the biggest female rapper’s many mistakes is being 20-minutes late. After popping out of a flimsy magician’s box she spends most of her time addressing London and asking if we’re ‘having a good time?’ Unlikely, as she makes a half-arsed attempt to rap over a backing track whilst some shell suit clad dancers try to distract the audience. Teasing the crowd with snippets of (her brilliantly obscure) songs doesn’t go down well and her ‘disappearing act’ hits a new low when she brings on an unknown to do all the work. All in all it is a wasted opportunity.
Taylor Hawkins and the Coat Tail Riders – 4/10
The Foo Fighters’ drummer kicks out some mediocre rock, which makes acceptable background music but that’s as far as it goes. Hawkins struggles to keep the audience engaged and even a special appearance from Roger Taylor doesn’t do it for the crowd. Perhaps not an ideal billing for a audience made mostly of P!nk fans.
Daisy Dares You - 3/10
Pretty blonde? Check. Guitar? Check. Topshop suited and booted? Check. Lifeless, middle of the road ‘edgy’ pop? Check.
LCD Soundsystem - 6/10
Perhaps a surprising addition to the downers list, it is with a push the Saturday’s headliners are included. Unfortunately frontman James Murphy responds irately to a bottle being thrown on stage and that is the beginning of the end. Technical difficulties ensue and what began as a riveting dance set quickly turns sour and awkward. The set finishes with slow burners including ‘New York I Love You’ further deflating the crowd and prompting one festival-goer to say: “I’ve popped to many pills for this boring shit.”
Bowling For Soup –2/10
No amount of effort will save them now. Most of the crowd are too young to remember that big hit whilst the others are too busy propping up the bar to care.
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