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Festival Review: Parklife Festival, Manchester


The weekend of June 9th saw 100,000 people descend upon Heaton Park in Manchester this weekend to see some of the world’s biggest acts including a euphoric homecoming by Liam Gallagher and The XX proving themselves as seasoned headliners who can perform on the big stage.

Parklife now has eight stages including their newest recruit ‘The Valley’ which was headlined by A$AP Rocky on the Saturday. Unfortunately for fans of the New York rapper he had to get a Police escort to the festival and arrived half an hour late for his set. Although, he did bring out Skepta to perform their new single ‘Praise The Lord’ to a hungry crowd.

After being sent to the wrong entrance by security, we finally managed to make it into the festival just in time for the extremely talented Tom Misch who blasted through his debut album Geography as well as delving into older material before finishing on a dazzling medley of J Dilla instrumentals with his band, which went down an absolute treat at the ‘Sounds of The Near Future’ tent. Misch is a perfect act for early in the day at a festival and a lovely way to open the weekend.

Later, it was the wondrous Bonobo’s turn to take on the tent and unsurprisingly Simon Green and co. delivered an explosive set which was an absolute privilege to experience. As their set clashed with N.E.R.D. who were on the Parklife Stage at the same time which meant the tent was only half full, but this didn’t stop performing a headline worthy performance.

One of the festival’s many dance dedicated areas was Elrow’s tent which was a hidden gem that transported you right to the centre of the Bronx in the 80’s and made you completely forget you were in Manchester, although, there is a risk of getting drowned in confetti once you enter it.

The XX brought 2017’s I See You to Manchester for one final victory lap and proved themselves to be headliners of the finest calibre. Every member of the three-piece brings something vital to the group with Jamie pulling the stings with the help of the beautiful harmonies from Ollie and Romy. Jamie really came into his own later in his set when thy performed ‘Loud Places’ featuring Romy on vocals which provided a gorgeous moment as day transformed to night at Heaton Park.

Romy and Ollie both looked like they were enjoying their return Manchester, with the guitarist sharing a heartening story about how she travelled down by herself to the City’s pride festival on a Megabus when she was just 16 and Ollie inviting the crowd to party with him down Canal Street later that evening.

The Londoner’s stage show was truly magnificent from the off-set with opening track ‘Dangerous’ bringing a carnival style atmosphere to Parklife. Tracks from their debut album sounded as brilliant as they did all them years ago, with ‘VCR’ being a highlight in the middle of the set before they ended on ‘Intro’ followed by the mecurial ‘Angels’ taken from their second record.

The former Mercury Prize winners proved themselves to be headline calibre and should encourage more major festival bookers out there to take more risks by giving more younger acts headline sets. Following headline performances at Parklife and All Points East have The XX earned themselves a shot at headlining The Pyramid Stage in the next few years? We shall see.

Sunday was the day of hometown heroes having their time in the sun on the Sunday firstly with Everything Everything taking to the Parklife stage for an emphatic set which heavily drew from their new album A Fever Dream. The band had just flown straight in from Manchester in Tennessee after performing at Bonnaroo and looked buzzing to be back home.

Chvrches then had the test of rain pouring down over Heaton Park during their set but this didn’t put a dampener on proceedings with the Scottish group smashing through their four albums with member Martin Doherty fronting the band for ‘Under the Tide’.

Liam Gallagher was the act that everyone inside the park was waiting all day long for with the rain failing to deter the crowd to accumulate in their masses for the former Oasis man. The 45-year-old’s set relied heavily on Oasis hits like ‘Supersonic’, ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ and ‘Some Might Say’ which appeased the massive circle pit in the middle. The crowd went wild when he introduced former Oasis guitarist Bonehead for a cameo appearance taking them for a trip down memory lane.

It was a special moment at the end of the set when Gallagher dedicated ‘Live Forever’ to the 22 people who were killed last year at the Arena attack. After leaving the stage, he then came back to perform a stripped back rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ and jokingly said “I don’t want any roadman after me, so here’s Wonderwall”.