Live Review

Parklife, Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Parklife continues its magical start to the festival season in the Southern Hemisphere.

Now in its eighth year, Parklife continues its magical start to the festival season in the Southern Hemisphere. Indeed, as punters take a leisurely stroll through the parklands, the atmosphere is akin to something out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. However, instead of fairies sprinkling their magic dust, lo and behold, it’s a stellar group of indie pop stars weaving their magic spell. Sharing the love vibes on the Earth Stage, The Elektrons deliver their pumping disco-house to the crowd, with joyous renditions of ‘Get Up,’ Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On,’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition.’

On the Water Stage, Goldfrapp make a spectacular entrance, with Alison Goldfrapp resplendent in a pink silk cape and tousled blonde curls. “Good afternoon!” she says, as the crowd erupts into a rapturous roar. Raising her arms as if summoning spirits from a medieval era, Alison comes across as a captivating sorceress. Certainly, with her ethereal falsetto vocals soaring above the crowd, she is highly reminiscent of Kate Bush in the video for ‘Wuthering Heights.’ All the while, a wondrous wall of soaring synths, pumping bass-lines and psychedelic guitars take the crowd on a magical ride. Bizarrely, the VIP section is located to the left of the crowd, as the ‘industry elite’ lean over the barricades, straining to witness the spectacle that is Goldfrapp. During a sublime version of ‘Happiness’ Alison’s lilting melodies and harmonies sail through the venue, while her breathy vocals mesmerise the audience. Absolutely spellbinding. “Rock and roll!” says Alison, clearly surprised by the deafening roar from the soccer stadium-like fan squad. Then, it’s time for the bluesy churning grooves of ‘Strict Machine,’ as Alison wails “Wonderful electric,” weaving an inexorable spell through the crowd. “Thank you so much!” she says. And with that, they leave the stage, leaving an absolutely enraptured audience in awe. “Wonderful electric” indeed!

Soon after, Blackalicious bound onto the Earth Stage, stunning the crowd with their rapid-fire rhyming styles and soulful vocals. An uplifting version of ‘Rhythm Sticks’ converts the crowd into an old-school block party, with a sea of raised hands, waving in time. Samples from LL Cool J’s ‘Mama Said Knock You Out,’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Wanna Be Starting Something,’ also have punters dancing.

With blaring sirens emanating from the Earth Stage, it can only mean one thing. The Rascal is back in town, Dizzee Rascal, that is. “Welcome on stage, the Number One MC in the world, everywhere in the corner, Melbourne, make some noise for Dizzee Rascal!” an MC announces. Needless to say, the crowd goes nuts. Commanding the crowd to “bounce,” Dizzee sets the pace for the night, throwing his formidable rhyming skills behind the pummeling bass of ‘Jus’ A Rascal,’ and a blistering version of ‘Excuse Me Please.’ Charming “the ladies,” Dizzee announces, “We love it when you flex like that,” signaling the frenetic bass-lines of the mighty ‘Flex,’ which has the girls singing along and frantically well, ‘flexing’ in a dancing frenzy. However, it’s the smooth R&B;grooves and soulful vocals emanating from the speakers that have punters almost delirious. Yes, it’s his Calvin Harris and Chrome collaboration, the breakthrough electro-hip-hop hit ‘Dance Wit Me,’ with its stunningly contagious hooks that have the girls dancing around and singing along in unison. Chrome then continues to warble away, while an illuminated Ferris Wheel to the left contributes to the magical atmosphere. “Thank you very much!” Dizzee says, to a satiated, roaring crowd.

Meanwhile, over on the Fire Stage, Does It Offend You, Yeah? deliver a delightfully shambolic performance. As driving synths and a cacophony of buzzing guitars create pandemonium, punters scurry to shelter from the pelting rain. Indeed, the band appears to scarcely believe their calamitous run of misfortune, as they bravely battle the elements, with keyboardist Morgan Quaintance shaking his head in disbelief while grinning broadly. After the band delivers scintillating tracks such as ‘Rockstars,’ singer James Rushent hobbles off the stage, wobbling on crutches, his leg in a plaster cast. Certainly, as the heavens open and punters rush down the hill in search of shelter, the band provides quite a surreal, yet spectacular finale to the festival.

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