I hot-footed it across to see my ultimate girl, style and vocal crush, Lana Del Rey. The tent was getting busy quickly, with everyone wanting a glimpse of the American pop-noire singer that has overtaken the world with her seemingly unfaltering quirky charm and soul-tingling voice. Not only did she look like a 60s starlet who had just had her heart broken, she was wearing a beautiful red dress that summed her up; simple yet beautiful. I was so sick with excitement my heart was fluttering and I genuinely felt a bit sick! She was backed by a fantastic string quartet and my god did she prove the doubters wrong. Her vocal was near perfect with a jazzy, slow, sad trawl leaving us devastated with awe and appreciation to hear such a great set. ‘Summer Sadness’ had the big group of guys next to me swaying in silence to the searing strings and loose floating vocal from Lana. I caught a few side shots of her on stage but otherwise watched the big screen enraptured by her all round amazingness. Yes I want to be her, be with her, be living in her huge beehive. ‘Videogames’ blew everything out of the water; how she felt, I have no idea, but to hear everyone singing each note must’ve really elevated life for a few minutes. She was so serene and still compared to other acts but commanded the greatest hold of an audience, breaking hearts and letting lovers link hands for a few songs.
She sank down into the stage, totally lost in ‘Born To Die’ and brought the sex appeal attack to ‘Blue Jeans’. Her new single ‘National Anthem’ saw her finish off her magical set with a suiting utter of ‘Money is the anthem’. She then jumped down to us muggles and spent a good ten minutes going around the barrier holding hands, kissing people and generally being great. I rushed forward with everyone thinking, nah, she won’t make it this far round… holy shit yes she did! I touched her arm and nearly wet myself. And that was the perfect ending to a very-nearly perfect set from one of the most deserving stars of 2012.
On that high I easily could’ve left happy, stroking my left arm and thinking of how we were now best mates. Instead, I downed a swift pint to get back into the upbeat vibe and was curious to find out who the ‘surprise guest’ was before Rihanna. Rumours floating about on the day included Kanye (really?), Cheryl Cole (puke) and even Coldplay (if only) but the crowd did go nuts when Zane Lowe whipped off the sheet covering a DJ booth emblazoned with ‘Dizzee Rascal’. I was a tad doubtful that he could quickly win over such a varied lot of people as he started off with some grimey beats like ‘Heavy’ and ‘Sirens’, that not everyone can really get into, but within a few tracks he had thousands bopping to ‘Bonkers, ‘Dance Wit Me’ and ‘Holiday’. He also previewed a new track aptly titled ‘Bassline Junkie’ stating ‘you can keep your ketamine’ rather bravely.
I managed to catch the tail end of Chase & Status slamming their hits straight into the audience. Liam Bailey cajoling everyone into singing along with the epic ‘Blind Faith’ was a standout moment as well as a brilliantly unexpected cover of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name Of’, which caused throngs of mosh-pits and mass middle-finger waving. That seemed like the peak, when along bounces Mr Tinie to rapturous applause to rap along to their cracker of a song, ‘Hitz’. Tearing it up just as he did a few hours previously, it lifted the set to new highs.
I was seriously tuckered out by this point, but held on for the thought of watching RiRi’s incredible legs strut across the main stage with thousands of other fans. As expected, she rocked. Her set list was hit after hit after sexual innuendo hit. She opened with the synth pop anthem ‘Only Girl In The World’ to wild applause and a killer outfit emblazoned with what I can only imagine the head office of the Iluminati looks like. She had a harem of egyptian male dancers as well as her own throne and reassured everyone she was so worth the wait. She seamlessly went into ‘Disturbia’ and ‘S & M’ and proceeded to point out her lovely vagina throughout ‘Cockiness’ and ‘Birthday Cake’ bumping to the heavy bass and giving every guy in the audience a boner.
‘Rude Boi’ and ‘Whats My Name’ got everyone back to reality for a few seconds and then pushed the guys to insanity with nearly every female on the marshes dropping their backsides low and shaking it til breaking point. Rihanna danced along with her production and gave us glimpses of her double cut-offs and amazonian thighs, whilst being able to maintain a quality vocal and great banter and hype. She really slowed it down for ‘Love The Way You Lie’ letting her true Barbadian twang give its full effect. This was heightened again by her cry of ‘Man Down’ and then sped up to a dizzying height with her new track (well I say new… it is Rihanna) ‘Where Have You Been?’. A particular highlight was her rendition of ‘Hard’ which was just all round a tight performance bringing that fierce and darker Rihanna attitude that we all love.
‘Please Don’t Stop The Music’ was such a fun rock out for everyone, it reminded us all of the absolute tunes she has under her chunky gold belt. By now, any superstar would be panting, not Rihanna, her swag and energy just kept going, probably spurred on by the thought of her surprise guest the ever-conquering Jay ZAAAAY who stepped in to rap for ‘Run This Town’ bringing a true streak of brilliance and hype to all of Hackney. Literally everyone went completely berserk for him; Hov had them throwing up ∆ through til ‘Talk That Talk’ and the play out of the original hook up of ‘Umbrella’ (cue everyones until then unused brollies). She ended on the very tallest of peaks, the anthemic and gutsy ‘We Found Love’ allowing everyone one last crazy, muddy rave. And what a way to end it.
If you haven’t caught my first half, check it here.