Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014

Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014Wireless Festival – Perry Park, Birmingham – 4th – 6th July 2014

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Wireless Festival has had such a prestigious reputation since it started in London. It’s been a place where the biggest names in the world are proud to play. But it’s always been too far to travel to or too expensive to book the accommodation at. So this year, for the first time in 10 years, out all the cities in the UK, Birmingham has been picked to host the show. It may be an unusual location in Perry Barr but that makes it all the better, and will show that we can host a festival of this magnitude. With Kanye West, Pharrell and Bruno Mars topping the Bill, this will be an urban weekend to remember.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

FRIDAY

To start Wireless Festival in Birmingham and to celebrate 10 years in the business, Live Nation had gone all out with the opening performers, cue the “trap lord.” No not A$ap Rocky (I have no idea what bigger fish he had to fry instead of Wireless) but a lesser crew member A$ap Ferg. It sounded like “The Warriors” were coming out to play as “A$aaaaap” was thundered through the speakers. A gun shot or two could be heard (think it might have been a magnum 44) as “Ferg” muscled his way onto the stage sporting an expensive looking blazer with a fluorescent head band to match. “How the f*** you doin London?” was the cry. To add to the confusion “Are you ready to get ratchet?” was another nonsensical question to the stunned crowd. But you have to go with the masses and just agree with the man. Things were going very well at this point but they were about to get even better as “Dump Dump” began. At first it sounded like the Starship Enterprise was landing but that was put to an abrupt end by “I f***** yo b**** n***.” As shallow as the lyrics are and as repetitive as the Maybach bass line was, the large gathering infront of the main stage were moshing their heads off. Another question arose as we were asked if we wanted to “murder mother******s?” I hope “Ferg” meant murder each other in an epic dance off as no one wants to die before the headlinersn Rudimental. The surprisingly catchy “F*** Out My Face” was then followed by “Let It Go” which was then followed by a wall of death ordered by the emperor or should I say “lord of the trap.” Things were going smoothly but they picked up a few notches when the A$ap Rocky tracks started to get played, from “Wild For The Night” to “Goldie.” This is when the set got considerably better in my opinion, but the highlight for me was when “Ferg” invited two rappers on the stage to freestyle to his beats, obviously the “black guy” couldn’t rap and the “white guy” could. It seemed the theme of the entire festival was supportive messages from each band/act constantly telling the crowd that “if you believe in yourself anything can happen.” To finish off a hectic half an hour it was time for the trap lord to perform “The Dope Lord” and “Where the f*** is Shabba?” as it was time for “Shabba Ranks.”

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

On the BrumBrum stage, otherwise referred to as stage 2, the urban theme continued with a pretty much Odd Future-less Earl Sweatshirt. No Tyler The Creator just Earl, Taco Bennett on the decks and the only white member of Odd Future, Lucas Vercetti, lurking around backstage. In the half full tent a very bemused looking Taco slid out and gave the crowd a little wave, Earl came on minutes later with his trademark buttoned up shirt and flat cap. After a quick turn up of the mic you couldn’t hear a word he was rapping about which is a shame really as, unlike A$ap Ferg, it’s not just random words strung together. “Blade” was a more mellow Wu Tang Clan/Kanye West sounding record so you could appreciate the clever flow and play of words Earl was delivering. But it appeared that the crowd were too relaxed as, according to Earl, “you were turned down as f***.” So it was time for a catchy number to get the tent to bounce to, it was prime time for some “new s***” off the “Doris” album. “Molasses” got a good ole festival sing along going with “F*** the freckles off your face b****.” At the end of the song, a blown up condom floated towards the front which ruffled a few feathers on stage but meant that the next song “Earl” was dedicated to Earl’s uncle condom (whatever that meant, the dope squad at the front row found it hilarious.) We obviously weren’t loud enough as the set was then changed to the “turned” part which would hopefully wake up the crowd, which resulted in Lucas Vercetti taking to the stage to DJ for “Drop” and “Hive.” It wasn’t the most varied of sets apart from the brief play of Skepta’s “That’s Not Me.” And it just seemed like Earl was annoyed as we apparently weren’t loud enough, at one point he asked “what do you want me to do, play saxophone?”

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Just as the heavens opened it was time to go outside to the main stage again, but luckily it was Azealia Banks to brighten up everyone’s day with her pink Power Ranger morph suit and colourful camp entourage. For such a young woman (23 years old) nothing seems to faze Azealia and it is clear to all that you “shouldn’t f*** with the bad a** b****” but today, I don’t know if it was the weather or maybe the destination (not knocking Perry Barr), but the set seemed quite half hearted. All the props were there with the zany costumes and the megaphone but between songs there wasn’t much of a dialogue going on with Azealia and us festival goers. Song-wise “ATM” seemed like a monotonous opener but maybe it was just because the recorded mix has Pharell in it. “Bad B*****s Do It”was followed by “Liquorice” which livened thing up and whipped the backup dancers into a gyrating frenzy of twerkingness. Dropped off the Fantasy mixtape “Luxury” was a classic club filler track and “Esta Noche” sparked the flashing lights off which then nicely flowed into “212.” Then without a word Azealia left the stage and surprisingly the sun came back out.

With a bit of an uneasy start on the main stage, Wireless needed someone who could up the ante, and get the hands out of the pockets and stop the uneasy swaying and unleash the inner festival spirit in people. So that meant a real star was booked, not one off a reality talent show but one who’s made it just for his good song writing skills and talent as a musician, and out waltzed Labrinth. Sunglasses on, bomber jacket ironed, top button done up it was time for the ultra-talented Timothy Mckenzie to wake us all up. If you forced yourself to watch Britain’s Got Talent last year then you will also of recognised the drummer DJ MckNasty aka Labrinth’s big brother doing a tremendous accompaniment on the drums. Like all Labrinth sets that I’ve seen before the variation and careful positioning of songs was spot on. The crowd climbed on board for “Another Planet” a sort of drum n bass/synthy dance track. There was the festival sing along I’d been craving for with “Express Yourself” which wasn’t just a copy of the recorded track but mixed in with the old school version on the hit which showcased Labrinth’s musical knowledgeability. “See beneath your beautiful” was then followed by the usual acoustic reggae version of “Pass Out” and after “Earth Quake” the guitar was tossed off the stage. Rock and Roll.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

It was a relief to finally see Wiz Khalifa outside as the last two times I couldn’t breathe in the smoky O2 Academy. So I took a breath of fresh air and enjoyed my natural high of being at a festival as big as Wireless in Birmingham. There was no messing around as straight away the guitar and band went into overdrive for “Work Hard Play Hard” and “The Thrill” then a little reminder on what Wiz is about with pressing questions about the crowds marijuana addictions. This then inevitably led into “Roll Up.” I was counting how many times DJ Bonics said Yo in nearly every song which was a distraction as his microphone was so loud. But that didn’t matter when a large amount of Taylor gang raided the stage. There were a couple of new songs in the set but only after all the classics like “Black And Yellow” and “Young, Wild and Free” was then preceded by a track released in April “We Dem Boyz” featuring the gang all on stage. The tracks on the set today were perfect for the festival, it wasn’t just a DJ but a whole band on stage which always helps. And it’s the catchy choruses that the crowd could sing along to that made things flow with ease.

Everyone this year has been craving a soundtrack for the summer. In 2011, the group headlining Wireless day one were not the guys you would go to. But 3 years on Rudimental had “not given in” and unlike their interrupted live set at Glastonbury the quartet were going to treat us to an extended headline set to replace Drake and his mysterious illness. There were a few chants for Drake but they soon vanished when Rudimental stormed the stage. The majority of people I spoke to were a bit wary about Rudimental going beyond the port of call and extending their set because everyone wanted to hear the big hits that propelled them to fame, but it was the promise of “very special guests” that kept us all sane. Rudimental had the feel good factor (unlike the other headliner Kanye West) opening with a jazzy interlude to go into “Give You Up”, “Right Here” and then prompting the loudest call and response from the crowd with a hit, dedicated to Kesi Dryden’s four year old daughter, “Not Giving In.” “Solo” came next with the catchy hook “You’re too cool to love me” and piercing trumpet accompaniment. “Who wants to be free, get on shoulders, we run things round here don’t worry about security.” Went into “Free” and it was time for the big finale and the “special guests” (rumoured by the security team to be Lily Allen) but turned out to be the quite predictable John Newman for “Feel The Love” and Ella Eyre for “Waiting All Night.” Although there were quite a few set fillers and songs that sounded very similar, the set was still very enjoyable as the guys are in their element live and Wireless got to see Rudimental at the peak of their success. Shame about Drake but if you bought a ticket you received a £20 drinks token to raise a glass to Rudimental anyway.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

SATURDAY

Today the sun was out and so were the festival goers, as thousands more tickets were sold for Wireless day two. After a first day of modern hip hop it was so refreshing to welcome Salt N Pepa to the main stage alongside DJ Spinderella. Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy” was the track sampled to repetitively play the “Salt N Pepa in the limousine” line and out bounced some burly back up dancers with Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton, the first all-female rap crew. To start the show Salt N Pepa busted a move to “Crazy In Love” and showed Miley Cyrus how to twerk with “Shake Your Thing.” We got tested on our hip hop knowledge – “Any 80s or 90s babies in the house?” – with songs like “Just A Friend” by Biz Markie. “I’ll Take Yo Man” was next with “Tramp” and the track to get everyone dancing “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Then from “This Is How We Do It” to “The Breaks” we were treated to an interlude of old school hip hop. A favourite amongst the crowd was “Shoop” which was mixed with “Who Run The World” and the Salt N Pepa jackets were brought to the stage for the finale “Push It.” 25 years in the business and both nearing 50 years old, they still know how to rock the crowd and created a buzz for the rest of the day.

You probably know pianist Ian Axel as the eccentric key smasher in Christina Aguilera’s “Say Something.” But at first glance the pop duo A Great Big World looked like two of the members of the Made In Chelsea cast. Ian looks a spitting image of Andy Jordan whereas lead singer Chad Vaccarino looks like Ollie Locke mixed with Example. Ironically the pair would be a band handpicked to play at a hip indie party in Chelsea, but they were still good. “Land Of Opportunity” was the angry song of the set according to Chad and was repelled by “Everyone Is Gay” a track created for the website everyoneisgay.com and is, to put it how Ian put it, “the gayest song ever made.” To finish off the set it was “Say Something” that received a rupture of applause but wasn’t the best song of the set.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

If you were at Wireless on Friday night and had stopped right till the bitter end then you will have already seen the next singer from a small market town in Yorkshire. John Newman was the so called special guest for Rudimental which meant that one of his main songs had already been done. “Cheating” was one of the best songs performed but most of the other soulful tracks all sounded like they were running into “Love Me Again” then didn’t. As talented as the band were on every song and as perfect the tone was in Newman’s voice, I just couldn’t get over how similar each song sounded. The dancing however was mesmerising to watch, I’ve never seen anyone wobble their legs as much as the 24 year old. But all the dancing was giving Newman a very red face and not helping his quite seedy look with his Robin Thicke style slick back hair. You wouldn’t think it was possible to get bored of the powerful trumpet solos and power chords on the keys but it did get to the point where the audience got to a standstill as it was impossible to dance to identical songs. The last thing that really annoyed me was the infamous “one more song” chant that has been circulating since the release of “Love Me Again”, with the predictable ending of Newman on his knees, probably praying for ideas for a new song.

I just caught the end of Bleachers, which was a shame as their one song were better than John Newman. I walked into the tent and a saxophone solo was in full swing to “You’re Still A Mystery.” A catchy song an audience with an age range of 10 to 60 could enjoy and dance innocently too.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

If you haven’t been a fan from the start, J Cole made it very clear that he didn’t respect you as much as the supporters from day one and this seemed to be the running theme. But there were 21,000 people at Wireless so surely he couldn’t expect everyone to like him. Having previously played two shows for his “Dollar And Dream” tour only charging one pound it was clear it was about the music and not the money for Jermaine Lamarr Cole. Cole world was at its finest today with the popular “Who Dat” starting the show followed by “Work Out.” There were moments where we were continuously tested on our J Cole knowledge with tracks from last summer like “Born Sinner” and songs from the impressive breakthrough album “The Warm Up” like “Lights Place.” I loved the set today. J Cole doesn’t do mainstream 2 Chainz-type songs, he’s always done his own thing. Cole didn’t even need a live band behind him like some rappers do as he’s got the rapping style and tone of voice. “There’s only one song that can turn this up 1000 knots and that’s” “Can’t Get Enough.” After all the excitement there was a brief moment of reflection as J stared into the abyss. But that was soon shattered by “Power Trip” which was a great way for the crowd to sing the chorus back and finish the set on a high.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Ellie Goulding is now a well renowned successful artist. With huge success in the UK, the USA has also wanted a piece of the action. So it’s due to all this love that Ellie is relentlessly playing shows all over the world. It’s amazing how much fame can change a person and the Ellie Goulding that turned up today was running the show for Wireless this Saturday afternoon. It’s this new found confidence that really made the set today enjoyable. Not just that but, unlike some acts (John Newman!), the songs, new and old were varied and very different. You can’t see the 30 year old songstress without her trademark drum, I even think she had two of them for Wireless and she was beating away for “Goodness Gracious.” Some people say that Ellie Goulding sounds like she’s got a peanut lodged at the back of her throat but it’s this unique tone (that used to annoy me on the X Factor) that’s made her hit the big time. The set was impressive with 10 huge platforms, each with a number on and it started to activate when the synths started for “Starry Eyed”, which received a mammoth applause. There was no “Your Song” which suggests that Ellie is ambitious and keen to delve into new songs but it was the classics that received the greatest recognition.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

There was no introduction for Outkast and, even after 13 years you would think there would be a voice over to get the crowd hyped, but the epic duo of Big Boi and Andre 3000 don’t roll like that. It seemed a tad disappointing that they weren’t headlining and that they were warming up for Bruno Mars, as the majority of fans were waiting for Bruno so only knew “Hey Ya.” But, after nearly a decade out of the game, Outkast looked as cool as ever. The duos were feeling old, as you could tell by Andre’s black jump suit with “Andre now 1000” and a pensioner’s wig to match, but they didn’t look old as you couldn’t keep Andre in the same spot, whereas Big Boi was leanin from side to side in the centre covered in Bling. Someone backstage made the rookie mistake of giving Andre a wired microphone (as if he was going to stand still) so he wrapped himself in the lead when it ran out. The bass player had wings and the highlight of the set for me was when Sleepy Brown came out in velvet Pyjamas for “I Like The Way You Move.” “Can we tell you a story?” was the run up for “Da Art Of Storytellin.” Things dimmed down a bit for “Aqemeni” but soon picked up as, even if you weren’t a fan back in the day, everyone knows “Ms Jackson” dedicated to all the single mommas in the house. For “Hey Ya” girls were invited on to “shake it like a polaroid.” Both Big Boi and Andrew looked so comfortable together on stage so hopefully a tour will be imminent.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

The surprise of the festival for me was how much Robin Thicke exceeded my expectations. With a new album made up mostly of songs about his wife with tracks like “Cheating” hard to stomach and “Get Her Back” making me irate at the music industry, it was easy to presume that the live show would flop just like the album. And when I first walked in to the second stage tent Robin was pouring his heart out on the piano to “Lock The Door.” Along with the tapping on the piano and the new hair cut I actually enjoyed the performance, which shocked me no end. Without the release of “Blurred Lines” though would this show or creepy album be taking place? “Get Her Back” was awful but, bar that one song, the set started to improve massively when Robin went into “Rock With You” then the infamous “Blurred Lines.” Followed by a confetti cannon and a sneak preview of his new record with Afrojack called “Forever Love.” Despite the sliminess of the album I enjoyed the set and the whole atmosphere inside the tent as it was packed to the rafters.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

The run up to this moment was the entirety of day two of Wireless Festival. All that stood between us and the god like figure of Bruno Mars was a Hawaiian cover. You could hear the screeching of a guitar, the cover dropped and the lights shone almost too brightly if you ask me as Bruno and his loyal band took to the stage. A certified hit maker in America and the UK, the 28 year old could’ve played two hours, not one, with his masses of hugely recognisable hits. Bruno Mars just hasn’t faded away since 2010 as the hits and number one singles just keep on coming. Although the weather wasn’t as hot as it could be, as corny as it sounds Bruno and his Hawaiian shirts brought a lot of sunshine and cheer to end day two. It just shows how far a good song writer can go, as since featuring on “Nothin On You”, Mars is headling Wireless whereas B.O.B is opening the show with a 20 minute slot. “Moonshine” was the first of the night, like most opener songs it was a good warm up to what was to come. The band was vital in the success of Bruno Mars tonight as they’re always there like they were when I saw him two years ago. If you’ve seen the video for “Treasure” you’ll know what I mean. They move in sync while playing their instruments at the same time. “Billionaire” came shortly after with the audience singing, not Mars. Things quickly heated up with “Our First Time” – a pretty self-explanatory song, but Bruno and the boys wanted to keep the theme going with “Jump On It” and “Ignition” covers. So we’d got passed the first stage of the relationship, now it was onto “Marry You” (sadly there were no proposals and possible rejections today) which then led into “Run Away Baby” so maybe that was about getting a divorce which triggered a surprise firework rocket at the edge of the stage. We were then treated to the silly song “The Lazy Song” then “When I was Your Man.” All these love songs, Bruno Mars must’ve had a troubled love life. There was no time to applaud when the disco ball lit up and led the way for a 5 minute impressive solo by the pianist on stage on two keyboards. It was then two other mega hits “Just The Way You Are” and “Grenade” before the encore. “Locked Out of Heaven” was the first, which then set the main fireworks off and the final track “Gorilla.” I always wondered why there was a gorilla on the “Unorthodox Jukebox” album cover. We’ve had “Moonshine” and “Gorilla” so this year it’s time for the Moonshine Jungle tour which I am highly anticipating.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

SUNDAY

Checked on my phone for a full weather report when I arrived today and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. But it seemed like I was in a cloud watching Foxes perform today. The clothes Foxes was wearing made it look like I was staring into a lucid dream or getting a mystical flashback. The set varied from songs like “Youth”, a very slow synth powered piano ballad, to “Let Go For Tonight” which started a clap off in the crowd and powered the band into full swing. Then it was “Holding On To Heaven” the anthem you hear in the background when Fern Cotton’s talking about festivals on Radio One. Foxes’ singing was great and there was a big crowd which might’ve had something to do with Iggy Azealia coming up next. The electro pop synths transported me to a soothing place and it was a perfect way to start the last day of what had been an already brilliant Wireless.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

After Azealia Banks failing to impress earlier in the festival, I was hoping her sworn enemy would show who the real “bad a** b**** is.” Dressed in sportswear and trainers Amethyst Amelia Kelly a.k.a Iggy Azeala was in the house and allegedly she’s in the “Murda Bizness” so I’d better not write anything negative. Although not for a second do I believe that this business is legitimate so I think I’ll be OK. Birmingham was playing second fiddle to the “It Girl” -at this moment in time Iggy Azeala, as we didn’t get Rita Ora on stage to perform their new single “Black Widow.” But we did get a searing performance by the 24 year old in a very revealing outfit, although it did just look like Azeala had come from the gym. If you didn’t know who it was it’s ok as the name was in huge bold letters behind and Iggy did talk about herself for the duration of the set. As the first song demonstrated “F** Love” “I’m in love with myself.” Which is taken from the album “The New Classic.” Early on in the performance if felt like it was going to be another set full of gangster gibberish and unfortunately,, if you like Iggy Azeala, you’re cool with that. Just when you felt like Azeala would say something of interest like “My cat ran into the road on the way here at the petrol station” it would just lead into “Pu$$y.” I think the Australian born singer might not even have a cat, which is a shame. Mobbed by a convoy of back up dancers “Fancy” got a decent cheer (well a bigger cheer than Pu$$y) and for the blokes out there gave them something to look at. As horrible as the new material was to listen to I suppose it was still new material and lines like “Classic Sinatra, Bad Phantom Of The Opera” were just genius. At least “Work” had some variation in it and wasn’t the same beat throughout the entire song. Some of the material was catchy if you’re a teenager but for the serious hip hop fans, there was no substance, just rhetoric (unless Iggy Azeala is an undercover criminal behind the scenes.) Then I am screwed!

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Some people in life are just naturally controversial and Angel Haze is on that list. Nominated for the BET award for Best Female Hip Hop artist, I had to come and see what all the fuss was about. The tent was only half full but as soon as I walked in I felt the hostility straight away. It appears there are no half measures with the 22 year old’s personality. It was either screaming into the microphone or singing an acoustic cover of Rudimental’s “Love Me Again” to her now official girlfriend,  and Alec Baldwin’s daughter, Ireland. At 22 you wouldn’t think that Angel would have a lot to be angry about but listening to her “Cleanin Out My Closet” remix it seems like Haze has had a really rotten time. If you think Iggy Azeala or Nicki Minaj can rap live or even on track then you haven’t come across Angel yet. On “Werkin Girls” or “I Own It” you can lose yourself in the lyrical flow or on the hits with a chorus like “Sing About Me” you find yourself singing along. I didn’t expect to get too sucked in to the set but the encore “Battle Cry” was quite a moving, as Angel isn’t afraid to talk about her real life in songs. At only 22, and smaller than I thought, you don’t expect that kind of a voice to come out of her but the girl can sing, rap and write her own stuff. I look forward to the solo tour and hopefully some special guests as I’ve heard she is quite friendly with Robin Thicke, which seems like the oddest relationship ever.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Whoever I’ve spoken to about Tinie Tempah live I’ve always been given similar answers, like he always kills it and has the crowd eating out the palm of his hands. So I was really looking forward to seeing Tinie for the first time at a huge festival like Wireless. First of all Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu a.k.a Tinie Tempah wouldn’t stop talking about his love for the Midlands and in particular Birmingham. We had a brief rerun of Black Country history in between songs which was nice and maybe why the crowd love him so much. The buzz didn’t seem to be shared by everyone, but people by the stage were very loud to welcome him. I wasn’t a fan way back in the pre “Pass Out” days, but I did get to like the 25 year old when he started making songs with Labrinth and Wiz Khalifa. It wasn’t Mediterranean heat in Perry Park but that didn’t stop the bright red vest top and shorts. It’s been years since Pass Out So I was expecting some brand new songs to really make an impact. So I was glad to hear “Lover Not A Fighter” another reasonably successful Labrinth/Tempah coalition song to open the show. But then it was all the past hits at once “Pass Out” “Till I’m Gone” and “Written In The Stars” in quick succession. Someone had set up the flames but I’d heard all those songs before and too many times. It probably seemed a good idea at the time so the lyrics were changed from “Miami to Ibiza” to “The Midlands To Ibiza” but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. Then after all those hits that everyone was fed up singing “Pass Out” started again which really confused me. To sign off on a high it was another tune from the new album, this time it was “Mosh Pit”, but the crowd were put under strict orders not to hurt each other, so there wasn’t going to be any trouble, right? Not what I saw, just seemed like a massive mosh pit! If you’re going to appeal to festival goers who’ve ran out of dance moves, just call a song ‘Mosh Pit’ and you can’t go wrong really. I had the feeling that a lot of the crowd were having Deja vu today with previous Tinie Tempah gigs they’d been to, so I’m glad it was my first.

Meridan Dan performed with what looked like his identical twin on stage 3 just before Pharrell but the tent was still packed out. “Who’s in the Meridan squad?” It seemed like everyone was, but straight after “I’m From A Place” Dan came out with “I know you’re only here for one thing” which was presumably “German Whip.” The song is like Marmite – a lot of people hate it and a few like it. There were obviously some German Whip fanatics in the tent today though and the thing that happened next set the place on fire. The DJ kept tempting the crowd with the start of “German Whip” when a backstage figure sprinted on stage, before he started rapping everyone knew it was Skepta, and he seemed like he was possessed, along with Big H. As soon as Skepta entered the stage the concert went from being Meridan Dan to a Boy Better Know concert. He took over with “That’s Not Me” and kept rapping over Meridan so it wasn’t the Meridan squad come the end of the set.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say, but the man of the moment Pharrell Williams was up next to get the crowd ready for Kanye, and I assure you we needed to be readied for what was coming up later. It had been a very cheerful day up to now and the feel good factor was only getting better. The set was full of crowd interaction and bright colored back up dancers, it was just like the “Happy” video on stage all the time. There were no fancy gimmicks and no fireworks, you don’t need it when Pharrell’s wearing that humongous hat. That hat doesn’t seem to leave Pharrell’s head apart from when mid show he invited crowd members up, someone had a YOLO moment and stole it straight off his well permed head. It doesn’t seem like the hat style is catching on though unless you’re a pimp, so I didn’t really get it, I just kept pinching myself, Pharrell was in Perry Barr. The 41 year old has been overwhelmed with his recent success and to start off the set was a song done with the Daft Punk partnership “Lose Yourself to Dance” followed by a classic from the past, “Frontin”, with back up dancers in white dressing gowns dancing with the star. The hits then flowed from “Hot In Herre” to “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Holla Back Girl.” At 41, Pharrell has finally cracked it and made the big time with “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky.” If Pharrell had missed “Happy” out it would’ve been a travesty so that’s what he ended with, with everyone he could possibly fit on the stage with him.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

As we had all heard from the London shows Kanye West wasn’t happy about life. And as soon as Pharrell had finished a dark anxious feeling brushed across the crowd. I could hear people in the crowd saying “If he rants at us I’m going to throw my welly at him.” So I was hoping for Kanye’s sake, as he’s not that young anymore (and he’s got a baby) that he would put London behind him and give Birmingham a good show, as what have we done wrong to him? A red menacing flashing light shone down on the stage with a rupturing bass to accompany the drama of it all. It was 10 minutes late but everyone in Perry Park had their eyes on the stage in anticipation. Then a figure emerged, but was it Kanye? You couldn’t tell as he had a mask on identical to the Selfridge’s building in Birmingham. You just had a bad feeling about the whole situation straight away, but it started off with a bit of promise with “Black Skinhead” then “Mercy” and a surprise mix of “Cold As Ice.” The vocals sounded good and the visual effects worked well, but I was praying the stage would light up but it stayed in the same dark way throughout the set. But who cares as the next song to treat us with was “Clique.” Well that’s what we all thought, but after a minimal applause the song was stopped and all you could hear was “No matter what I say, nothing can stop me.” Which resulted in some pretty loud boos. If I’d have had to pay for my ticket at this point I would’ve been disappointed. By this point the critically acclaimed “Watch The Throne” tour was firmly rooted in the past. “Blood On The Leaves” was next with the T Pain auto tuner. It was quite catchy and obviously a personal favorite as Kanye said “I’m gonna play this s*** at the end too.” It didn’t contain the feel good factor which was a shame: I hope this isn’t what fatherhood does to you! Then it sounded like My Chemical Romance were coming on with a piano solo by Kanye in “Let’s Have A Toast.” The crowd were not really involved at this section so it was time for another rant “Losing parents, s*** I’ve been through, I’m not invincible.” But at least it didn’t keep getting more and more depressing as “Stronger” picked the crowd up as did “Run This Town.” It seemed like Kanye would say something controversial then win the crowd back with a well-known hit. “It All Falls Down” was next and things were looking up then “All Of The Lights” “Good Life” and the song that’s been remade by everyone “Bound” which was the last song of the night. It was a great run of songs to end the gig but I don’t think that the set was well thought out, the lighting was awful and the monitors turning off after every song kept stalling the show and stopped things running smoothly. “I’m not myself, but I will be back.” was the message we were left with, but will it be worth spending hard earned money next time if we don’t know which Kanye is going to turn up. Despite the darkness of the end of the evening, people were in high spirits thanks to a brilliant last day and weekend full of the biggest urban acts out there today.

Wireless Festival, Birmingham By Andy Watson / Drw-images for Birmingham Live

Review – John Kirby
Photos – Andy Watson

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