Live Music + Gig Reviews

Wireless Festival 2007: Day 3 @ Harewood House, Leeds

17 June 2007

The last day of the Wireless Festival was the much heralded ‘electro day’, and thus saw thousands of people with day-glo face paint, florescent leggings and t-shirts proclaiming “Klaxons Are Kunts” (ironic self-deprecation apparently) descend upon the still muddy fields of Harewood House.

The big news for those of us who’d suffered the vagaries of the weather was that Sunday brought (whisper it) sunshine. Although acts of the calibre of Digitalism, Husky Rescue and Kate Havnevik were all playing the covered areas, the rare sight of that yellow thing in the sky meant that this was a day for your trusty OMH scribe to set up shop by the main stage for the day.

Datarock were the first act we caught in the sunshine, five Norwegian men dressed in matching red tracksuits and leaping about all over the stage. Thoughts of Goldie Lookin’ Chain could be safely banished though, for Datarock were quite brilliant. A beguiling mix of electro, funk and punk, it was nigh on impossible to stay still during their set.

Whether it be the infectious slinking soul of I Used To Dance With My Daddy, the call and response crowd pleaser of Computer Camp Love or the anthemic Fa-Fa-Fa, Datarock stormed the stage. The tracksuits and image make it difficult to take them seriously, but take them seriously you should do.

Next up were London’s very own purveyors of ‘nu-disco’, New Young Pony Club. It’s suitable that they were on the same bill as CSS, as the two bands share a certain sound and charisma that means they’re impossible not to like. Lead singer Tahita Bulmer is the star of the show, a whirlwind of energy who couldn’t seem to stay still for a minute.

The only problem with NYPC is that everyone seemed to be waiting for one particular song. Tahita seemed aware of this too, promising to “give you what you want…soon, ok?” before launching into one of the less interesting tracks from Fantastic Playroom. Previous single The Bomb did have everyone bopping along, but at last Ice Cream appeared to make everyone happy.

Ice Cream is one of those perfect summer anthems that sounds glorious when being played very loud while the sun is shining. NYPC certainly have bags of charisma, and when they write a few more songs of the quality of Ice Cream, they’ll be unstoppable.

Already pretty unstoppable is Mark Ronson. The British-born, New York-based DJ has scored a major success with his Version album this year, and appeared here with a full band including a three piece horn section. The familiar strains of God Put A Smile On Your Face started up, and Harewood House’s field was turned into one huge party.

Ronson had also brought along some friends as well, in the shape of Australian singer Daniel Merriweather, Phantom Planet vocalist Alex Greenwald, and Washington DC rapper Wale. The latter was the star of the show, running from either end of the stage, encouraging the audience to wave their hands in the air and standing in for the late ODB on Ronson’s brilliant version of Britney’s Toxic.

Sadly, there was no sign of Amy Winehouse or Lily Allen, but Ronson did introduce Talia who stood in for Winehouse on a barmstorming Valerie, while Merriweather led the crowd in a mass singalong on Stop Me. Perhaps the biggest surprise though was Greenwalt (wearing the silliest hat of the weekend by far) singing California, better known as the theme to teen angst drama The OC – cue much excited gasps from the many 20somethings in the audience.

It was possibly the most feel-good set of the day so far, a feeling that wasn’t to last long when Plan B took the stage. Last year’s debut album was one of the highlights of the year, but live B and his band play dour, snarling rap-metal that rather brought a downer on proceedings. It wasn’t helped either by the fact that the open-air atmosphere meant that we missed much of B’s incisive lyrics, leaving us with the impression of a rather angry-looking man shouting at us.

A quick snatch of Blur‘s Song 2 did manage to liven up the crowd, but in general this was probably the wrong place, wrong time for Plan B and his band.

If an air of depression had settled over the audience after Plan B’s exit, CSS did their best to cheer us all up. The Brazilians could easily be described as the happiest band in showbiz, with colourful helium balloons festooning the stage and lead singer Lovefoxx cavorting around in a multi-coloured spandex leotard (which made a couple of young men behind me almost lose control of their senses, rather worryingly).

Songs like Alala and Off The Hook produced mass dancing amongst the crowd, and when Lovefoxx jumped into the front row during Alcohol, there was near hysteria. A superb Meeting Paris Hilton was also a definite highlight, but it was the wonderful Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above which everyone was waiting for. Some rather ill-advised crowd surfing from Lovefoxx finished off their set, an unqualified triumph for the girls (and boy) from Brazil.

The unmistakable figure of James Murphy was soon setting up his own instruments, soundchecking each one in his trademark ill-fitting t-shirt and shades. While LCD Soundsystem have undeniably been responsible for some classy moments this year (not least the soaring new single All My Friends), there was something rather flat about their performance here.

Us V Them kicked off proceedings, and while it sounded as perfectly slinky as it does on record, it just didn’t really seem to be grabbing the crowd. Perhaps it was the fact that most of Murphy’s songs seem to go on for about 7 or 8 minutes, and an open-air setting while it’s still light possibly isn’t the best place to experience them live. Murphy’s typically odd comments to the crowd probably didn’t help either (“this is a good gig for us, because we can go home tonight” pointing at Harewood House, causing much bemused shrugging in the crowd).

However, a raucous Daft Punk Is Playing At My House (they soon would be, after all) and North American Scum managed to save the day. Maybe their appearance at the indoor tent at this year’s Carling Weekender will make more sense.

A quick dash across the field proved fruitless as there were probably more people gathered outside the Tuborg Tent to see the Klaxons as there were inside. So we gave that up as a bad job, and trampled back to the main stage to see a huge black curtain draped across the main stage to prepare for Daft Punk‘s arrival. Excitement swept the crowd as people speculated on what sort of show the French duo had in store for us. Half an hour after their advertised spot was meant to begin, we had our answer.

At 9.30pm, the curtain fell to reveal an awe-inspiring pyramid structure with two masked figures perched at the top. The familiar strains of Robot Rock kicked in and the pyramid lit up a variety of different colours, before we set off for 90 minutes of uninterrupted futuristic robo-funk.

The light show was nothing short of incredible, and the duo were kind enough to drop in hits such as Da Funk and All Around The World for those of us not that au fait with their back catalogue. Even if the music wasn’t to your tastes, you could easily stand and just stare at the light show, even if the amount of electricity used would no doubt cause Al Gore a coronary.

A clever mixing in of One More Time with Aerodynamic caused much whooping in the crowd and even the reappearance of the rain couldn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. A fitting end for a weekend that’s slowly emerging as one of the highlights of the packed festival season.

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