Live Review: Wireless Festival, London 02.07.11

Gerry Moore

Since it was first established in 2005, The Wireless festival has proved itself a worthy contender to rival any heavyweight  summer festival. Wireless has brought a consistently impressive line-up right into the heart of London at its Hyde Park site for its annual 3-day weekender. This year’s edition was the biggest yet, running from Friday 1st July through Sunday 3rd, delivering some top quality acts to some 140,000 punters over the course of the weekend. Under perfect blue skies, the crowds built steadily over the course of Saturday afternoon.

Eschewing dubstep diva Katie B on the main stage gave a chance to catch the energetic German dance duo Digitalism. Performing a mix of older tracks and new material from their recent album “2 Hearts”, they were able to capture the hearts of the early afternoon crowd in a convincing way with their brand of infectious Daft Punk-esque electro pop. Back on the main stage, more mainstream Ke$ha, best known for her 2009 international hit ‘Tik Tok’, streamed out bubble-gum pop to a largely disinterested audience. Faring slightly better were festival circuit stalwarts, The Streets. As always, Mike Skinner’s between song banter was almost as much a highlight as the songs in their set. Jokingly offering  the crowd sagely advice on when exactly to take their drugs for optimum enjoyment from The Chemical Brothers’ set, and telling us all to watch out for The Chems’ “calamari of light”, Skinner was on good form. If “Computers and Blues” is indeed to be The Streets swansong, they will be missed by many.

Photo: Gerry Moore // Aphex Twin at Pepsi Max Stage

Back on the second stage, US-based avant garde rockers Battles struggled bravely with on-stage technical difficulties, hindering their efforts to bring their cerebral-rock riffs to a crowd who seemed to be largely appreciative. Following Battles, one Richard D James, otherwise known as Aphex Twin amongst other things, took to the stage. Delivering a set which seemed surprisingly geared to pleasing a mixed festival crowd, he rattled through a largely danceable, yet sonically diverse mix. From “Windowlicker” rolled out early on, a trip through some of the more acid – infused numbers from the Analord series and touching on some of the spikier material, Aphex Twin held the audience rapt throughout. So much so, that many chose to pass up the start of The Chemical Brother’s set, favouring AFX; a clear festival highlight. True to Mike Skinner’s earlier prediction, squid-shaped light-forms did indeed descend from the night sky in a most spectacular way for Saturday’s head-liner set from the Chemical Brothers. Drawing on their now gargantuan back catalogue of festival – rockin’ beats they were quickly into hit after hit territory, delivering a quality performance to match their reputation. Unpredictably, the duo’s performance went down a storm with the by now massive, main stage crowd though. They seem to have the formula for stadium – dance music near-perfect, sending most of the punters off for the night bus with a post-gig afterglow.

With Thanks to the Wireless Press Dept. & PR team for hospitality

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