WIRELESS FESTIVAL, Hyde Park – Evening Standard, 9 June 2012


While Rihanna just about got away without needing her umbrella-ella-ella during Sunday’s Wireless headlining slot, those who stayed longer were less lucky. In Hyde Park’s wide open space, where the blackest clouds could be seen advancing from miles away, at times the rain still crashed down so suddenly that there were screams from among the 65,000-strong crowd.

Unpleasant though it was to trudge through endless thick gloop between stages, the changeable weather did make this usually civilised weekender feel more like a real festival than a diet version for lightweight day trippers. The grin-and-bear-it mentality set in, girls applied stripes of muddy warpaint to their cheeks and set about having fun regardless.
There was a summery feel to the music if not to the skies, from the chirpy bounce of Rizzle Kicks to J Cole’s smooth, tuneful hip hop. Over on the smaller stage, Theophilus London demonstrated the edgier side of Wireless, rapping over bass-heavy, futuristic beats.
In the early evening slot, Calvin Harris had an end-of-the-world lightshow to go with his familiar tunes and had already broken out the confetti and fireworks in the middle of the first song. Over on the main stage, Jessie J had just one album but an army of hit singles to choose from and worked the crowd like an old pro, singing with an impressive volunteer and insisting on wider audience participation at every step.
London ought to have had its fill of Rihanna for now after her headline spot just a fortnight ago at the Hackney Weekend. As she gyrated around the same Egyptian stage setting as before, with Cleopatra’s deadly asp on her black baseball cap, the crowd behaved as though this was simply a delayed encore.
Unwisely spending much of her time on a lower platform that left her invisible beyond the front rows, on the big screens at least she was luminous, sitting down for her emotional Eminem duet Love the Way You Lie and leading her busy dance troupe with gusto during Don’t Stop the Music. Signing off with a fireworks finale in We Found Love, many seemed ready to do it all again next week – preferably under drier conditions.