Music review: Radio 1’s Big Weekend

Paisley's own Paolo Nutini lit up the main stage as the skies darkened. Picture: Mark Runnacles/PA
Paisley's own Paolo Nutini lit up the main stage as the skies darkened. Picture: Mark Runnacles/PA
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RADIO 1’s Big Weekend festival may at heart be a brand awareness exercise, but it packed some clout with its line-up, not least in securing the world’s biggest boy band to open proceedings on Saturday.

Radio 1’s Big Weekend - Glasgow Green

***

While the crowd were primed for hysteria, the members of One Direction looked a little dazed from their early start and the prospect of their own full show in Dublin that night, particularly chief heartthrob Harry Styles, who stumbled on stage as if he’d just been turfed out of bed. However, even at a low peep, he still displayed more charisma than Ed Sheeran, whose ultra-bland set a few hours later went down a storm nevertheless.

Lorde, playing the cumbersomely named In New Music We Trust tent, suffered from a serious bout of over-earnestness. While other teenage performers are out there having fun, she has some pseudo-dramatic message to impart through the medium of generic electro pop and freaky dancing.

Lily Allen looked like she was up for some mischief but didn’t have the goods. Her disappointing sugary set, delivered in shrill voice, was at least tempered with a few hints of subversion sneaked in under cover of her dinky hits Hard Out Here and Not Fair.

The only real starpower of the day came from ladies’ man Pharrell Williams, whose short but perfectly funky set was stuffed with all the best songs, including a number of tracks he has guested on or produced for other artists and the three biggest hits of the past year: Blurred Lines, Get Lucky and Happy.

Neither Calvin Harris nor Example need starpower when they can just push their big rave buttons and unleash collective madness in the crowd. Harris’s DJ set also relied on the most spectacular light show of the day while Example’s overlapping set across site favoured the old-fashioned method of energetic live band and engaging with the crowd.

Headliners Coldplay then soothed the rave heads with a lovely, inclusive performance of terminally nice songs. Chris Martin was as polite and sincere as ever, and won a few more hearts by dedicating the gorgeous ballad Oceans to “everyone who lost their artwork in Glasgow yesterday”.

Kings of Leon and local heroes Chvrches pulled in the punters early on a potentially gloomy Sunday while, in a logistical dilemma for fans of bland male soul pop vocalists, John Newman and Sam Smith were scheduled to appear at the same time on different stages, at least putting paid to rumours that they are the same person.

Elsewhere on site, bass/drums duo Royal Blood packed out the bijou BBC Introducing stage with their quasi-White Stripes bluesy rock, a refreshing blast of heavy groove music in comparison with their wan fellow acts and Klaxons’ welcome pick’n’mix of punk attitude, glam outfits and huge pop tunes romped off with the day before the big guns Paolo Nutini and Katy Perry came out to play.

Seen on 24-25.05.14