There’s a bubbling excitement throughout Finsbury Park as Boy Better Know’s criminally early headline slot approaches. By the time JME stomps his way across stage for an explosive opening of ‘Man Don’t Care’, the sun-kissed crowd boils over, a volcano of high-flung drinks filling the air.
They’re occasionally joined by a clap of fire or CO2 cannon, BBK relishing the opportunity to offer up a little showboating, but otherwise it’s relatively stripped back. A phone-booth and post-box bookend the stage, as each member skips about in front of claustrophobic projections (or, in the case of Frisco’s entrance, a MacBook projector settings window). It’s a set up they thrive in – the packed, eighty thousand strong field feels like a sweatbox club show.
By the time Skepta storms in with a one-two of ‘That’s Not Me’ and ‘Too Many Man’, it’s pandemonium. Mosh pits are opening both on and off-stage, and a t-shirt cannon’s whipped out for ‘Lyrics’, the party atmosphere soaring higher with every arcing shirt. It’s a riotous celebration– a barely-contained, tangled mess of bodies bounding about the stage, Solo 45 repeatedly roaring his demands for the crowd to “make some fuckin’ noise” as ‘Feed Em To The Lions’ incites carnage.
The guest of honour makes his appearance as the all-too-short hour-long slot reaches its peak, Pharrell Williams joining Skepta and a cast of hundreds on-stage for ‘Numbers’. “It’s a family ting,” Skepta announces before ‘It Ain’t Safe’ rings out, “that’s all it is.” As he looks out on the crowd, there’s a feeling that everyone in Finsbury Park tonight is a member of that clan.
Wireless proves to be a reunion like no other, BBK’s decade-spanning setlist checking in with every step of their climb, right up to their more recent smashing of the glass ceiling. The reaction to ‘Shutdown’ is predictably deafening. As the stage is once more flooded with bodies for a closing rendition of ‘Man (Gang)’, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone having a better time tonight than those both on- and off-stage in Finsbury Park.
It’s a worthy cause for a knees-up, too – years of hard graft come good on the biggest platform the scene has. If there’s any doubt that BBK control London, tonight it’s dead and buried. As that huge Reading and Leeds slot approaches, it’s the rest of the country – if not the world – that’s in the crosshairs.
Photos: Ben Gibson / Wireless 2016.
Skepta will play Melt! (15th - 17th July), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.