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Issue 1084

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Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17

Chaka Khan: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Chaka Khan: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Frank Ocean: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Stormzy: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Rag'N'Bone Man: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Frank Ocean: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Frank Ocean: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Chaka Khan: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Chaka Khan: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Dizzee Rascal: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nao: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nao: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Rag'N'Bone Man: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Rag'N'Bone Man: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Rag'N'Bone Man: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Stefflon Don: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Stefflon Don: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Goldie: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Stormzy: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Stormzy: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com P Money: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nadia Rose: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Nadia Rose: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Wiley: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Wiley: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Anderson .Paak: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Anderson .Paak: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Anderson .Paak: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Ghetts: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Ghetts: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Run The Jewels: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Run The Jewels: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Run The Jewels: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com J Hus: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com J Hus: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Danny Brown: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Danny Brown: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com David Rodigan: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Damian Marley: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com Damian Marley: Parklife Festival, Manchester 10-11/6/17 @bluesandsoul.com

Over the past few years, the Parklife festival in Manchester has established itself as one of the country's big hitters for fans of hip-hop, R’n’B and reggae.

Previous acts to grace the stage have included Kendrick Lemar, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Wu Tang, Busta Rhymes, Nas and Chronixx, among many others.

With the weight of expectation now on festival organisers, the line-up announcement is always hotly anticipated.

This year they weren't messing around, securing Frank Ocean's first UK show since 2013, which would be just his second show anywhere in the world since the release of latest album Blonde.

Add in Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley, Run the Jewels, Danny Brown, Stormzy, Rag'N'Bone Man and Anderson .Paak, and it was clear 2017 would be a memorable year.

There was a heavy emphasis on grime this year with the Temple stage, the second largest at the festival in Manchester's Heaton Park, hosting some of the genre's biggest names.

On the first day, these included Stefflon Don, P Money, Ghetts - who also brought out Fekky to perform banger "Call Me Again" - J Hus and Predatah, as well as stage headliners Boy Better Know.

It made it a lively spot, with each putting on an energetic show.

Stefflon Don, who supported Ludacris in London earlier this year, is definitely one to watch, and her show attracted a large crowd which had grown even larger by the time she performed the catchy "16 Shots".

The set by Ghetts was one of the highlights on the stage on Saturday, and gave the 32-year-old Londoner a chance to show what he could do.

It was also a perfect showcase for J Hus, who is showing all the signs of being huge.

His "Common Sense" album is already one of the sounds of 2017, and he is an engaging performer, his Top 10 hit "Did You See" prompting large sections of the crowd to jump up and down in the mud. 

One feature the festival has become famous for is the variety of acts on the lineup, and multimillion record seller Chaka Khan was a surprise inclusion on the main stage.

The 64-year-old certainly puts on a show and proved popular with the young audience, who unsurprisingly joined in with "Ain't Nobody".

One of the high points of the weekend came in one of the large tents when up-and-comer Anderson .Paak headlined with his band The Free Nationals.

I was lucky to catch him a few months ago in London, and knew what a great performer he is, and he did not disappoint, energetically leaping around the stage in front of an excited audience.

He caught the eye when he featured on Dr Dre's "Compton" album, and his inclusion at the top of the bill on the Sounds of the Near Future stage acknowledged that he has the potential to be a huge star.

Paak's "Malibu" album was one of the highlights of last year, and the packed crowd were treated to a phenominal show. 

He has the potential to be a main stage headliner in years to come, and did an excellent job drawing a crowd even as the bill put him head-to-head with Manchester favourites The 1975.

It was a triumphant end to day one, and some of the crowd migrated through the mud - overnight rain had ensured wellies were compulsory - to the last knockings of the Boy Better Know set.

The grime takeover continued the following day, with up-and-comer Nadia Rose delivering a strong set on the Temple Stage, on a lineup put together by David Rodigan.

She was confident and drew a large reaction from the crowd on a set which was over all-too-soon.

Next up was the well-established sound of Congo Natty, the feel-good reggae sound keeping the rain at bay in front of an appreciative audience.

From there I headed to the main stage from UK blues singer Rag'N'Bone Man.

The first time I saw him was at this festival two years ago, when he appeared in an afternoon slot in one of the tents in front of a modest but engaged crowd.

It's been a big couple of years since then, and the main stage crowd was much larger this time around.

His voice is a force of nature, and carried across a huge area, proving that he can perform arena shows as well as more intimate gigs.

The start of his set was followed by a quick dash back to the Temple stage, where Detroit rapper Danny Brown would deliver one of the defining sets of the weekend.

He boasts one of the most distinctive voices in modern hip hop, and the 36-year-old's records can be an acquired taste, but he's definitely the real deal when he's on stage.

His flow was excellent and as his set progressed he drew a bigger reaction from the audience.

He was followed by UK grime pioneer Wiley, who opened with 2008 hit "Wearing My Rolex". Wiley has been around for a long time, but his appetite has not gone down, and he was a lively inclusion on the lineup.

A DJ set by Goldie proved popular, and Rodigan was typically entertaining as he took to the stage for an hour to share his love of reggae music.

A quick sprint back the main stage afforded the chance to catch part of the set by the excellent Run The Jewels.

El-P and Killer Mike were in good voice, arriving onstage to Queen's "We Are The Champions" before delivering their distinctive brand of hip hop.

The duo are well worth watching, and Killer Mike demonstrated his vocal dexterity on several occasions. They are touring later this year.

Fans had taken their place hours earlier to catch Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley, the son of reggae superstar Bob, and there was a huge sense of anticipation as the opening bars of "Confrontation" sounded.

With dreadlocks stretching all the way to his ankles, Marley is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars to come from Jamaica since his father's time, and his set lived up to expectation.

He bounded across the stage throughout his set, predictably drawing a huge reaction to his hits, with the crowd going crazy as "Welcome To Jamrock" blasted from the speakers.

He has new material on the horizon, some of which he teased in his Parklife performance, boding well for the future.

Grime artist Stormzy was the headliner on the Sounds of the Near Future stage after a phenomenal year. Such was the demand to see his performance that fans lined up well outside the tent to get a glimpse.

A Stormzy show is always high energy, and crowd maintained the feverish intensity throughout.

Back into the open, the final act of the weekend was superstar Frank Ocean. Unlike everyone else who had played at the main stage over the weekend, Ocean opted for a more unusual set, performing on a sound stage in the middle of the crowd.

He was 40 minutes late, meaning the audience was restless by the time he arrived, and many spent a long time trying to pick him out before realising his voice wasn't coming from the stage.

It's been a while since he performed on a regular basis, and his nerves were evident. He restarted opening track "Solo" twice, at one point complaining his headphones were too chunky.

His set may have had a disjointed effect and it seemed to split the crowd down the middle.

Yet at its best, it showed Ocean as a passionate and vulnerable performer, and somehow he managed to turn a festival headline slot into what felt like an intimate show.

His set pulled heavily from latest record "Blonde", an excellent album, but lacking the singalong factor that characterised his debut, "Orange".

Versions of "Good Guy" and "Self Control" were among the highlights, and he tore down a walkway through the crowd during "Thinkin' About You".

It was a show for the die-hards, but there were plenty of them in the crowd, and showed he has lost none of his power as a performer. Hopefully, it'll be the springboard for more live shows in the near future.

As festivalgoers marched through the mud toward the exits, there was a feeling of satisfaction among the crowds. Planning has already begun for next year, and after some excellent inclusions on this year's bill, expectations will be equally high in 2018.

@ParkLifeFest

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

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