Clare Maguire – 2FM Hotpress Academy Stage
A thumping intro to ‘Ain’t Nobody’ announces Clare Maguire’s arrival onstage, and even before she sings her first note hopes are high that this could be a top performance. But hype can often work against an artist – a scenario that’s becoming all too familiar when it comes to Clare Maguire. Debut album Light After Dark was good, but not great – and the same can be said of Maguire’s set tonight. Her voice is undeniably impressive – but it’s almost as if she doesn’t know its own strength, losing control of it at the most inopportune moments. However, also much like the album, there are very distinct highlights – singles ‘The Last Dance’ and ‘The Shield’ and ‘The Sword’ are thoroughly enjoyable, Maguire feeding off the energy of the crowd’s reaction and taking her performance to another level. In contrast – the less said about that Kanye West ‘Love Lockdown’ cover, the better.
Tinie Tempah – Vodafone Stage
The mass appeal of Tinie Tempah is truly admirable. Debut album Disc-Overy has brought him chart success, critical acclaim, and fans from all different spectrums – and it’s all for very good reason. Arriving onto the Vodafone Stage to a hero’s welcome, he wastes no time getting the crowd to go absolutely nuts, and it’s a standard that remains for the duration of his set. He’s quite the entertainer – Tinie says “jump”, and the crowd don’t even have to ask how high – they just do it. ‘Written in the Stars’ is a highlight, a word-for-word sing-along, given a new and almost epic lease of life when performed by a full live band. It’s a case of ‘dance or be danced on’ as the opening beats of Sweedish House Mafia collaboration ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’ kick in, and before we know it, it’s time – ‘Pass Out’ is unleashed, and all-out madness ensues. WHAT a way to close a show. Tinie Tempah gave the Oxegen crowd a set which was nothing short of brilliant – long may he reign supreme.
The Naked & Famous – 2FM Hotpress Academy Stage
As the masses stampede towards the main stage to nab a good spot for The Script, little do they know they are by-passing the beginnings of what turns out to be one of Friday’s highlights. The Naked & Famous arrive onstage amidst a haze of smoke and blinding lights – and from the word go they completely own that stage, bringing the tracks of debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You to life with an impressive flair. Furious guitars, poppy synths and thumping drum beats blend seamlessly, and the dual vocals of Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith barely falter throughout the set. The best is saved for last – the gradual build of ‘Girls Like You’ from subtle intro into all-out chant-along is thrilling, followed by the song that kicked things off for these Kiwis – the brilliant ‘Young Blood’ – ensuring a frenzied finish.
The Black Eyed Peas – Main Stage
The air of anticipation amongst the gigantic crowd awaiting the arrival of main stage headliners The Black Eyed Peas is infectious – it’s hard to resist being sucked in by it all. The group certainly know how to make an entrance – it’s pure spectacle from the offset as they begin to churn out their arsenal of chart hits; and, helped by the fact that that they sound a lot more in tune than usual, it’s all actually rather enjoyable. That is, until halfway through when Will.I.Am takes it upon himself to spoil the party by indulging in a completely unnecessary (and sub-standard) DJ set. The crowd react accordingly, dispersing in every direction to seek out alternative entertainment. Yet it just keeps going… and going. When it’s FINALLY over, a visually stunning performance of ‘Boom Boom Pow’ serves as a reminder as to just why these guys are one of the biggest pop acts on the planet, and the closing duo of ‘The Time (Dirty Bit)’ and ‘I Gotta Feelin’ get the kids dancing again – but really, the Black Eyed Peas never regained the momentum they built up during the first half of the set. There’s a lesson to be learned here – do NOT ask Will.I.Am to DJ your next function.
Photo by Peter Neill.