I was elated to be asked to review Parklife for my fourth year in a row, Manchester has become my home and this year more than ever it felt so important for everyone to come together and have a massive party. Primarily it should be mentioned how amazingly organised the festival was this year. Naturally there was extra security but everyone was super friendly and everything, well mostly, seemed to go to plan.
As ever, I can’t remember every single thing I saw last weekend, but I remember most of it, and here are my highlights. On the Saturday we headed straight to the main stage to catch the 1975’s most recent tour support, The Japanese House, play an amazingly impressive set early on. They turned many people who didn’t know them, into great fans. Straight after we had a political few hours watching Cabbage and RAT BOY, both of whom played anarchic but wonderful sets. Then we had a swift walk over to the Sounds of the near future stage where we saw one of my favourite bands, Jagwar Ma, delivering as they always do an incredible set. They seemed somewhat suited for Parklife with their psychedelic tendencies. George Ezra was next, and it was amazing to see him back singing his delightfully catchy songs to a very very large crowd, this set had a real summer feel to it. Straight after, it was time for London Grammar, and what a band they are. The vocals never seem to stop amazing me and they filled the tent with silence, brought on by disbelief I’m sure. After singing ‘Strong’ back to them, I ran over to the mainstage in time for homecoming The 1975.
Before Matty and the boys came on, there was a very touching tribute to the Manchester Arena attack with Andy Burnham offering his thanks to all those who helped in whatever way, from security to paramedics. Then it was time for one of my favourite performances of the weekend, the 1975 just seem to get better and better with every show. They offered an incredible set of songs that we couldn’t get enough off and they have cemented themselves as a festival headline band. Saturday was amazing, it was then time for bed so we were ready for Sunday.
Sunday arrived and I couldn’t wait to get back to Heaton Park. We arrived just in time for Zara Larsson’s hit filled set to a very large crowd, given it was only half past 3. She played summer hit after summer hit and got everyone in the mood for the day ahead. Next up was critic’s choice and BRIT best newcomer, Rag’n’bone man. He played a soul filled set of his hits and openly apologised for bringing the mood down, but we didn’t mind. We then headed over to the Temple to catch the king of Grime Wiley, bring the house, wait no, the park, down. Who knew Wiley had so many amazing songs? He drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend and for good reason. We then hit the sounds of the new future stage again to catch Flying Lotus’ innovative 3D show – this was incredible and I’m sure will pave the way for DJ sets in the future. This was the perfect energy builder for the best show of the weekend, and possibly one of the best sets I’ve ever seen, it could only be from one man. Stormzy could have filled his tent 5 times with the amount of people who wanted to see him on Sunday evening and sweet jesus was he good. His grime set was captivating, hit filled and energetic, a true hero when it comes to grime. Finally it was a run over to the main stage to see Frank Ocean.
Quick disclaimer – my opinion doesn’t necessarily reflect everyone else’s in relation to Mr Ocean and a lot of people think he put on an incredible show, and I respect that. Frank Ocean came on 40 minutes late, he was only supposed to play a set of 1 hour and 20 minutes so this was worrying. When he came on, he started his first song over 3 times – diva or perfectionist? I’ll let others decide. His voice was incredible, I have to admit, but he really didn’t seem to have the crowd in the palm of his hand and I was expecting more, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
What an incredible weekend I had, tiring, wet but incredible. I can’t wait to be back in Heaton Park next year. Can I sleep now?
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Review by Jack McCabe | @jmc2630