There we were four lil old limping ladies, hobbling and trudging towards the bathroom in slow motion trying to muster the motivation for round 2 at Parklife. We’d all done a Tom Hanks in the film ‘Big’ and experienced accelerated aging overnight as the events of the day before had done us in which was apt because some of us had BIG blisters on our feet but a few blisters and aching limbs were not going to deter us from getting our dance on at Parklife festival day 2, not on your nelly or should that be not on your wellies.
Having snoozed the 4 alarms that went off more than 5 times each, seeing West London group WSTRN’s set was rapidly fading into the distance and by the time we arrived at the park the queues were longer and the checks stricter. It seemed many festival goers decided to purchase a Sunday ticket only as there seemed to be a lot more revellers than the day before and the queue was moving at a snail’s pace. Once at the front we were all subjected to a full pat down and asked to empty the contents of our handbags which was a far cry from waltzing on in the day before.
With only 1 chicken filet Capri sun filled with vodka (the other one must have got chucked when I was on a hype ting the day before) we were in and just in time to hear the last few notes of WSTRN’s “In2” noooooooooooo! We rationalised that this would give us more time to find the ambiguous ‘Temple stage’ where Hip hop heavy weight Busta Rhymes was playing in an hour plus we needed a food boost to refuel on energy. Having encountered a travelling gorilla and a moving elephant casually strolling past us, we finally found the temple stage. Now I must admit I was expecting greatness from the flip mode squad extraordinaire as I’d grown up listening to his music and rinsed my copy of the almighty ‘Extinction Level Event’ album but it wasn’t to be. Busta Rhymes seemed to struggle with navigating a festival crowd which many American’s artists seem to misjudge. He did not adapt his set for a festival setting which meant we only got 30 second bursts of his biggest hits just as the crowd were revving up to get live, he told us many tales of b!tches in the hotel, b!tches in the car, b!tches in the dressing room and after a while this became somewhat tedious as we all just wanted to ‘put our hands where our eyes could see’ and get buck wild. When ‘Put your hands…’ did drop we had a skank out moment but again, it was short-lived.
From the temple we made our way to the main stage to take in Dub step darling Katy B. With her hair in the trend of the moment – braids (although she gave hers a unique and messy edge), denim mini skirt and grey hoodie she looked great and sounded better her voice soared through the crowd angelically and she bought a playful vibe to her set as she had girl power moments with D.J Emerald and treated us to a choreographed dance routine; it’s obvious Katy enjoys what she does and had as much fun as we did. Katy ran through all her well-known tracks, the Tine Tempah assisted ‘Turn the music louder’, ‘Lights on’ ‘Broken record’ and saved the best until last with ‘Katy on a mission’ which got ramped up to a double time flow which was the perfect end to an energetic set. Katy had accomplished her mission and had us all leaping like loons as we kept up with the double time dutty B-line.
After a short interlude of what I will call ‘Get your tats out’ a group of giddy teens and 20 somethings decided to display their array of tattoos to us which they had gotten when they were hammered on holiday (there was a three-headed one-legged elephant within the collection of tattoos on display which looked like it was kissing an ant-eater or an alien type creature) the lovely Jess Glynne appeared wearing yep you guessed it braids which let’s be honest is great for performers when they are on stage bustin’ moves and running about. Jess Glynne has so many sing along pop tunes and club bangers to choose from the vibe was way up and stayed blessed as the crowd felt the euphoria of the festival as a wave of complete joy and happiness poured from the stage and into the crowd. Her soulful vocals oozed depth over her feel good pop and soul house grooves on the tracks ‘Hold my hand’ and infectious classics such as ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself’ and Tinie was with us once again (in speaker not in person) on the track ‘Not letting go’ Jess’ whole set was so uplifting it was as though the brilliant auburn tone of her hair lit up the sky and convinced the sun to come out which just increased the good vibes like waves of a sea made of skittles! Jess Glynne embodied the spirit of a music festival in her performance; her bouncy songs were feel good and had everyone shimmying to her uplifting anthems and I felt the same sense of unity I felt the day before watching Stormzy perform ‘Shut up’ and Kano perform ‘This is England’ everyone was swept up in the moment and national pride was in full effect across Heaton park.
Words cannot convey how GASSED I was to see the next act perform after spending 3 weeks in his world for my ‘Konnichiwa’ review – Yes the man himself super Skep was about to step up to the mic and bless our muddy fields of North. I could not contain myself and my girls were looking at me like I’d lost my mind and would have to sedate me. The serene flute of ‘Konnichiwa’ floated over the fields which triggered me to launch myself like a cannonball leaving its barrel to the front row, screw facing anyone who dared to stop me. With our destination reached I looked up to the stage to see Skepta striding confidently in a black baseball cap, sunglasses, an open black jacket and bright orange khaki pants. Skepta performed ‘Corn on the curb’ ‘Lyrics’ and ‘Crime Riddim enthusiastically but upon hearing ‘That’s not me’ it reminded us of a time just before Skepta’s star started its rapid ascent to worldwide status, he’d informed us the video cost “£80 English pounds to make” at the MOBO awards and it hit home in that moment how much Skepta has achieved in the past few years of Grime’s resurgence to the main stream. His songs were well received by festival goers and I noted baby-faced guys sporting the first strands of bum fluff reciting every single word Skepta spat which again is a testament to Skeppy who seems to have a reach longer than Dhalsim from street fighter when it comes to influencing differing demographics. As I looked around the park I noticed the mixture of races, ages and sexes coming together to watch Skepta perform.
The turn up was cranked up when Skepta performed ‘It ain’t safe’, mini mosh pits erupted, people were hollering the lyrics and it was absolute carnage, I’ve never witnessed or been a part of something so messy and I loved every second of it. Skepta played about with the infamous lyric “Ring ring pu$$y it’s your mummy on the phone” when DJ Maximum stopped the track and Skepta mischievously repeated the lyrics a second time and of course the crowd was on it and responded relishing in the rawness of the lyrics. Skepta then swung his brass balls and to my surprise performed his Devilman diss ‘Nasty’ which blindsided me as it was an unusual choice for a festival setting to perform the lesser known song from his repertoire highlighting a beef gone by; but perhaps that was the whole point – if you diss Skepta he will remember you and let you know he hasn’t forgotten. For die-hard Skepta fans like myself it was a real treat to hear the track performed live and I was buzzing off my… rhymes with bits to hear ‘Nasty’ live and underscored by Wiley’s epic ‘Morgue’ instrumental.
Boy better know’s Frisco joined Skepta for much of the set looking fresh in a yellow bomber type jacket (that I now want so I can team it with my jeans and heels combi.) for hype man duties and it was great to see Skepta vibin’ with his friend and crew member. By the time the rebels anthem ‘Shutdown’ was performed there was not one person in the park who wasn’t jumping up and down and having the time of their lives, strangers turned to each other to scream “SHUTDOWN” with mile wide grins (and gurns) on their faces. Anti-pagan anthem ‘Man’ punctuated the complete anarchy of a festival perfectly with its snarling guitar and no-nonsense lyrics. The MONSTA mosh pit moment goes to ‘Detox’ and had a lot to with man like Murkle – Yes jump man JAMMER burst onto the stage like a wild tiger pouncing and jumping all over the place to deliver the most energetic verse I’ve heard live this year, matched only by Ghetts ‘One Take.’ Performances. Jammer was fierce, loud and proud and definitely upped the energy to heart attack levels. After the set Skepta, Frisco, and Jammer came down from the stage to the front row to thank the fans and decided to veer left, I was stood on the right – Damn! I was close enough to see the three faces of BBK drenched in sweat and heard them clearly thanking their fans and showing appreciation for the support they’d received. It was great to see them show love to the fans after their exhausting set and had me thinking BBK could also be an acronym for – Bwoys BARE Kind.
Hearing Skepta’s authentic and hard-hitting bars live was the equivalent of asteroids impacting upon the brain with each track performed leaving behind an indent on the mind comparable to a crater on the moon! He smashed his set to bits and it was a wonder the stage did not cave in beneath the high-octane set.
As we inched away from the main stage continuously looking back as though Skepta were going to run back on and start the whole set again (wishful thinking) we all agreed that if Park life was on for a third day we would do it all over again and crawl there if we had to due to the fact our feet would be out of action for at least the next few days. Manny has not only put itself on the map over the past year or so, but it has glued itself to the map with 10 tubes of Loctite superglue! With the growth of park life year after year and the titans they are able to secure for the line-ups it’s evident we’ll all be playing in park for many years to come…See you next year!