Overall rating: 8/10
Decked in vibrant flags and palm trees, with a host of street food market stalls and a mini carnival, Hyde Park is transformed into a setting fit for pop royalty. And the weather even manages to holds out for the third day of British Summer Time Hyde Park 2015.
Top of the BBC Sound of 2015 list, synth-pop trio Years & Years (9) take to the leaf-covered Great Oak Stage. Endearingly timid, frontman Olly shows they’re not just another hype with lively performances of ‘Shine’, ‘King’ and new track ‘Gold’, before turning to the piano for an emotive rendition of ‘Eyes Shut’. An unexpected, acoustic cover of ‘Breathe’ by Sean Paul featuring Blu Cantrell demonstrates the group’s versatility.
Bringing the stage alive in an explosion of colour Mika (7) opens with ‘Big Girl (You are Beautiful)’, spurring the crowd into a wave of camp dancing. With his impressive range and energy, Mika sets the scene for the evening’s uninhibited celebration of pop. But despite now having released four albums to date, and testing out some newer music, it’s clear that the crowd-pleasers are Mika’s 2007 hits- ‘Relax, Take it Easy’, ‘Lollipop’ and ‘Love Today’.
Unlike the pristine, choreographed routine later delivered by the day’s headliner, when Grace Jones (8) is on stage you’re never sure what’s going to happen. Reputation alone could not pre-empt her brilliantly bizarre performance. Entering the stage donning a gold mask, black feathers and silk, black trench jacket, Jones soon strips down to reveal just a corset and some paint.
It’s not just this 67-year-old’s costume which shocks the crowd as she hula hoops and rolls across the stage singing ‘My Jamaican Guy’ and ‘Slave to the Rhythm’, but her explicit advice for the audience wouldn’t even be uttered at the heaviest of rock gigs. Grace doesn’t seem to care what anyone might think and her eccentric energy is alluring. A rare live date for Jones, she also tests out new track ‘Shenanigans’.
As the night comes to a climax, petite Kylie (8) graces the stage wearing a diamante crown and regal robes. Opening with 1990 hit ‘Better the Devil You Know’, the next two hours promise, much to the crowd’s pleasure, to be a nostalgia-filled sequence of poptastic tracks. Kylie’s performance is polished and although for many it might be a guilty pleasure, you can’t help but embrace the catalogue of hits and join the mass dance off.
Without pausing to talk or grab the many gifts launched at her from the crowd, Miss Minogue storms through a wealth of glamorous costume changes and crowd-pleasers. ‘In Your Eyes’, ‘WOW’ and ‘Spinning Around’ all go down well, as does an acapella ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’, with the crowd leading the “la la las” of the bridge.
Her set is flawless, but cutesy Kylie lacks of splash of personality, which seems to have been prioritised behind drumming through hit after hit. An acoustic cover of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ offers some variation, before leaping back into ‘The Loco-motion’ and ‘All The Lovers’.
But the audience love it and throughout the day there’s a carefree and relaxed atmosphere, which seems to have been lost from many overcrowded festivals. If British Summer Time Hyde Park continues to produce such all-embracing line-ups and secure the weather to match, then bring on 2016.
Taken from my recent review for Virtual Festivals.