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Festival review: Parklife 2012

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News that the gates were going to be opened late, coupled with the fact, in true Manchester style, that the heavens opened, Parklife 2012 was off to a questionable (and damp) start. On being able to enter one hour late, only part of the site was open – just two stages of anonymous DJ's trying their best to keep spirits up.

ParklifeAfter two hours we could get into the main area, but with the stage times now all askew the programme many people had spent a fiver on became pretty useless. But with awesome-turntabalist DJ Yoda taking to the stage, even the poor organisation couldn’t damped spirits. Yoda got everybody dancing in the mud, playing absolute classics as well as some of his own fantastic remixes (including a rather special mix of the Corronation Street theme tune), this really got the day started. 

Indie newcomers Spector roared through a fantastic set, including the beautiful ‘Never Fade Away’, on the Now Wave stage. Front-man Frederick Macpherson captivated the crowd and the band proved why they are tipped to take the country by storm.

In line with the ‘making people wait’ theme of the day, Kelis, sporting a bizarre green, mediaeval style outfit took to the stage 35 minutes late. She kicked off her set with a song from her latest album, which one, nobody could be sure, she, her drummer and her DJ all seemed to be playing completely different songs, no one was in time with any other and the problems continued to grow.

Horrendous screeching feedback coming from the speakers, her microphone constantly cutting out, and to top it all off half of the PA cut out midway through a song and she just got up and left – this was not the kind of set legends are built from! Plus she left out her big-hitters – no ‘Milkshake’, no ‘Caught Out There’, no ‘Millionaire’ – this has to be one of the most disappointing live shows of all time!

Thankfully Noah & The Whale’s set showed exactly why they have gone from strength to strength recently. They provided the festival with its first great sing-along moments. An absolutely fantastic set, Charlie Fink and co proving they are one of the truely great festival bands today.

But nothing could prepare for headliners The Flaming Lips. The psyche-rockers burst on stage with front-man Wayne Coyne outfit more bizarre than Kelis’ and set the place alight with a feast for the ears and the eyes. During the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Song’ the rain from earlier was replaced by falling colour, as confetti from giant cannons covered the crowd. Throughout astounding visuals accompanied aural gems from the Lips long career – inflatable balls launched into the crowd and Coyne with his unique take on crowd-surfing, him zorbing across the gathered throng. After 11 songs the band leave, but chants from more dragged them back for an encore of the brilliant ‘Race For The Prize’ and ‘Do You Realise?’ (possibly the happiest song ever written about death) and an explosion of a finale – more confetti, and the stage filled with wondrous characters including school girls and a dancing frog. There are simply no words to describe quite how brilliant The Flaming Lips live show is, it has to be seen to be believed. 

Day two and with everything running smoothly things were looking up. But the atmosphere wasn’t as electric as the previous day – maybe all the energy had been used up by The Flaming Lips.

Four people in monks robes stepped out onto the stage, from under those robes burst Murkage. There wasn't much of a crowd, but the grime act really pulled out all the stops to put on a good show. They got up close and personal with the crowd, coming right up to the barriers, where one member had his shirt literally ripped off his back. This was a solid start to the day.

Next up was Delilah, had a great voice and was rather pleasing on the eye but was lacking in the way of great tunes. Her 45 minute set really dragged. With the right tunes she could be a star but she is just not there yet.

Back to the theme of the previous day hip hop royalty De La Soul left everyone waiting for half an hour. When DJ Maseo did eventually appear he played 15 minutes of tunes to warm-up leaving the crowd a little restless. But being joined by Dave and Posdnous completing the magic three and banging into classic 'Me, Myself & I' all was forgiven and the group proved why they are one of the best and most enduring acts in hip hop.

Labrynth provided one of the surprises of the weekend. He may only be just be breaking out on his own, but if this set is anything to go by he could be around for a very long time. If you have only heard his hit single ‘Earthquake’, then you are likely to believe he is just a flash in the pan and nothing special. But there is so much more to this young artist. He burst through most of the tracks from his album, and any of them could actually be a huge hit. There was so much variation, he really hit the perfect festival feel with the Charles Wright sampling summer vibe on ‘Express Yourself’. He also showed his guitar playing ability with some really impressive solo's throughout his set.

He closed his set with ‘Earthquake’, which got a huge reception, this man has so much potential, and unlike Delilah, already has the songs. One of the weekends highlights.

Few words can really describe French dance icons Justice’s set other then transfixing, spellbind and phenomenal. Their live show certainly has to be seen/heard to be believed.

Catching a bit of Dizzee Rascal before heading home left a great but truly mixed bag of a festival. When it was good, it was really good, but when it was bad it really took it to a new level of horrendous – sorry Kelis.

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