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:: Calvin Harris :: Friendly Fires :: Egyptian Hip Hop :: May 68 :: We Have Band :: Kele Okereke :: Goldie :: Steve Mason :: Emalkay :: Nero ::
12 June 2010 / Platt Fields / Manchester
By Ged Camera

It may not have the kudos of Glastonbury or Reading but Manchester is becoming a part of the music festival itinerary. Dot To Dot recently visited the city to add to other events such as FutureEverything and Eurocultured, plus itís the home of the glorious In The City. Now the Parklife festival, which ties together various stands of Mad Ferret, The Warehouse Project plus Ear To The Ground, takes it turn at entertaining the citizens of Manchester, with a view to becoming a regular fixture. Whilst other events may have advisedly indie feel to them, this event caters mainly for the dance end of the aural range.

I'st only 2pm so the 20,000+ crowd hasnít descended yet, many probably recovering from the Ian Brown event the night before, but first up at the Now Wave stage local hot tips MAY68 manage to entice a decent crowd into their lair. Becoming ever more confident in their stage presence, their brand of electro-pop shakes away the cobwebs. WE HAVE BAND follow May68 and that's perhaps a bit of a shame, for whilst they deliver their own style of synth-heavy technopop, it's a bit too much from the same mould as the band before them.

The layout of the nine separate areas is sufficiently well thought out so that when you enter the Mad Ferret Garden you feel as though youíve entered a garden party. Leather suites, abandoned TVs, coffee tables and 30ft stuffed snakes add an Alice in Wonderland touch. The novelty of the silent disco elicits much laugher. Then there's the Odds And Ends stage that features dance troupes such as Hypnotic and the Sunshine Studios plus comedy and poetry. And in a distant planet, far, far away, there is the Lost In Bass area. In real life it's just the opposite corner of Platt Fields, but once you enter the tent it's as if everything outside ceases to exist. That's provided you can get in - even at 4 pm the tent is full to capacity and there is a queue. Once inside it's a maelstrom of flailing arms and twisting bodies moving to the urgings of NERO. The only light is from the flashing lasers, illuminating the dry ice and everyone is lost in the music. Similarly, at the second d'n'b stage EMALKAY is frantically hurling out raps with an intensity and energy that seems at odds with the heat outside.

Surprisingly itís the Now Wave tent that provides more of the chilled out beats, whether it be EGYPTIAN HIP HOP, who continue to change and improve or ex Beta Band member STEVE MASON. From the early days of being a keyboard led band, EHH now open with guitars, the keyboards coming later, so much so that their newest song is almost a laid back jazz tinged affair.

Itís a personal thing, but why does a DJ play on a main stage thatís capable of supporting a 10 piece orchestra plus band? Surely the point of going to a gig is hoping that the audience/act interaction can lead to more than just someone dipping into their record collection. Thereís no doubt that CALVIN HARRIS can roll our the beats in a manner that keeps the sun drenched crowd moving, but would it not be better in a darkened, enclosed area where the mood is more easily manipulated, as GOLDIE ably demonstrates elsewhere?

The football scheduling means that whilst there's a large screen erected for the crowd to watch the game, KELE OKEREKE is scheduled at the same time as headliners FRIENDLY FIRES. Striding onto the stage Kele wears a grin that could warm a small city. With Bloc Party apparently taking a break, Kele has been keeping alive musically by making a new album with his band. Looking out over a crowd that numbers hundreds rather than the thousands that would accompany a BP gig, he appears to savour the intimacy. He's not got some offbeat musical genre he wants to unveil either, so there's no drum'n'bass meets Aqua sounds being dispensed: it's in an indie pop with danceable beats and catchy chorus vein, and the crowd enjoy it. However it's fitting that on a night when the England game was relayed on a large screen, the band that supplied the theme tune to Football Focus should headline on the main stage. Ed Macfarlane and the rest of Friendly Fires seem minuscule on the stage from the middle of the crowd, but their songs are anything but. They chime out over the bobbing heads, and soar into the night sky before the crowd leave on a high.

photos (c) Ged Camera 2010

Friendly Fires
Kele Okereke
Steve Mason
May 68
Egyptian Hip Hop

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