This final weekend of mini-festivals at Finsbury Park will, despite the incredible performances of many artists, surely go down in history as one of the least well organised London live music events in recent memory. There were hours-long queues for beer and drinking water that ran across the litter-strewn Finsbury Park like a road map. There were broken card machines and bar staff that only accepted cash. There were hideous toilets, lax security and delays getting in and out of the festival. Oh, and you had to strain to actually hear all of the music clearly, owing to the poor sound quality.
However, the performances of some artists almost made up for it.
Firstly, Run The Jewels played a monstrous set that leaned heavily on their third record. Their boisterous, literate strain of hip-hop was particularly potent, and went down incredible well, despite temperatures near the stage causing some people to pass out and be carried away. Then there was the performance of the headliners, Queens Of The Stone Age, who seemed to draw energy from the crowd that you’d have thought had expired hours before. Now that they have finished their run of dates supporting their incredible album Villains, they returned to a ‘Greatest Hits’ set that drew mainly from their magnum opus Songs For The Deaf. Opening and closing with material from that record seems like a wise move, now that their status as a legendary band is all but confirmed, and Josh Homme attempting to get the public back on-side after ‘photographer-gate’.
Despite this, the best performance came from Iggy Pop, naturally. Now in the twilight of his unrivalled career, he seems to be enjoying himself more than ever. He looks like he’s having fun, rather than playing up to his reputation as the fiercest imp in rock ‘n’ roll. After seeing him perform the laser-focused, once-in-a-lifetime Post Pop Depression setlist, where the majority of the songs came from his twin 1977 albums (The Idiot and Lust For Life), including some he hadn’t played in over twenty years, seeing him go back to a grab-bag festival setlist was jarring. Of course, the Stooges material (I Wanna Be Your Dog, Search and Destroy, T.V. Eye, I’m Sick of You and Gimme Danger) went down incredibly well with the crowd – including the whole of Black Honey, who were shaking their bejewelled, bedenimed asses in front of your humble reviewer.
But it was the sole remaining track from The Idiot that seemed to get the best reaction of his own material – it was a song that very few in the crowd would have ever had the opportunity to see performed live, and its robotic groove brought something different and fresh to a non-stop adrenaline-rush of a performance. Mass Production, from the first of his 1977 albums with David Bowie, immediately preceded Iggy’s final number, which turned out to be a touching, glorious rendition of His Thin White Dukeness’s The Jean Genie. Initially written as a tribute to Iggy Pop, The Jean Genie was a beautiful way for the Igster to end his set by paying tribute to Bowie and his own well-spent youth.
All in all, it was a perfect moment in a less-than-perfect event. Here’s hoping it’s a better one next year.