We asked around to find out what people made of Radio 1’s Big Weekend. This is what members of our team / CB readers thought of the event.
A free festival? The BBC were onto a winner from the start. Expanding the event to three days for the first time gave it that big-time feel. Two Door Cinema Club and Olly Murs were our ticket bait and it worked a treat. Tickets were snapped up in minutes.
We’d all seen what Big Weekend had been in previous years – Hackney Weekend had 40,000 people for a festival featuring Jay-Z and Rihanna! Surely an event of that scope couldn’t be coming to Derry? We’d been the forgotten cousin for so long, even after hosting major events in the MTV Awards we still felt it was too good to be true.
A few days later interest exploded. The full line-up was announced, confirming that the biggest live music event in Northern Ireland history was coming to town. Biffy Clyro, Bruno Mars, 30 Seconds To Mars, Vampire Weekend, Paramore and Clavin Harris on the same line-up! All on our back doorstep. For almost a month the UK’s most listened to radio station was solely talking about Derry and how fantastic the event would be. Now that was a hype-train we were happy to ride all the way across the Peace bridge into Ebrington Square.
I was only able to go to the Saturday but I tip my hat to Radio 1 for their extensive coverage. It genuinely felt as though you were apart of the atmosphere even while you were at home watching online or listening on the radio. There was something cracking performances throughout the weekend. This event was a big deal to the artists, a platform that could propel them to the next level or build on a young fan base . Simply, we were getting a gig for free to the best shopping window of festival season 2013.
// Friday’s Video Mapping
With a shorter DJ based opening day, the Friday of Big Weekend was waiting for that epic moment to properly announce it’s arrival. They didn’t disappoint. The light show before Calvin Harris’ set was amazing! Using video mapping on the old white barracks building to create an unique canvas of light. Radio 1 said themselves that it was “the coolest thing we’ve every done”, we can’t argue with them there. It will live long in the memory for music fans throughout the province. A dynamic surprise which highlighted the stature of the event.
// In New Music We Trust Stage (The Venue)
What fantastic use they made out the temporary arena. It was my first time in The Venue and I was massively impressed. I’ll definitely not be the only one who’ll be calling for that to remain as a permanent fixture. On camera it looked incredible and even better in the flesh. For those whole prefer the alternative side of the musical spectrum it was a haven for the top bands and artists of the year so far. I would love to listen them all but some of the stand outs where.
There was lots of buzz before their set, everybody we talked to seemed to have them on their list of must sees. It’s not hard to see why. “Chocolate” is a break through hit most bands would dream of and their success is duly justified. Undoubtedly a big hit with younger female fans their longevity as a band will depend on if they can grow with their audience. On the Saturday they were everything you could hope for live. Capable, tight and just the right dose of cool. They claim their new record sounds like an 80’s movie and we’ve got to agree with them. They’re not Simple Minds but the sprinkling of synths does give it the feel of a John Hughes movie soundtrack. From a hand-full in attendance at the Oh Yeah Centre to a guaranteed sell out at the Mandela hall in less than 12 months. Dirty Hit have unearthed another gem.
I honestly cannot believe that I loved Iggy as much as I did. To be truthful, I checked out her set out of curiosity rather than fandom – unsure if I would be able to keep a straight face while she brought a diva attitude to an Irish stage without the hits to rely on. She was over the top and at times ridiculous, but it all worked. A true popstar in all the right ways – with the confidence and bravado of a seasoned mega star. The second stage was rocking to”Bounce”, “Pu$$y” and jarring anthem “Work”. In my opinion the best set on the Saturday by a country mile.
The dark horse of the entire festival and the Seattle native came up trumps. Just when you thought Iggy had stole the show Macklemore pops up with a set which the Radio 1 will have on repeat for months, but it might never get old. Who knew that the man behind the exceedingly good “Thrift Shop” would be able to take a YouTube sensation, transfer it into a genuine worldwide hit and then follow it up with another killer jam in the form of “Can’t Hold Us”. Nobody had the crowd in their palm of their hands like Macklemore. Those two songs have obviously made a significant impact and could be a launch pad for a long mainstream career. Comparisons to Eminem are inevitable but in the mean time check out his crowd walking antics during “Can’t Hold Us”. The “I was there” moment of the entire weekend. Don’t worry, he’ll be back around Autumn time.
// Main Stage
The set up for the main stage was fantastic. It looked great and luckily for us they didn’t push the barrier too far away from the stage which can be the case at these events.
Opening with Two Door Cinema Club on the second day was a strange move. It seemed like a mix of pulling the crowds in early to have the square as full as possible from the start, a primetime radio slot and the band’s own scheduling. I’m sure there was many disappointed fans out there who arrived late with the set lacking a bit of energy from the crowd. No complaints about the performance from the Bangor three, we were just caught out a bit cold which is a shame. 30 Seconds to Mars was the big name to open the Sunday but word had spread in twenty four hours and their echelon were ready from the get go. Massive balloons were a unique bit of pageantry with Jared Leto inviting a group fans on stage a nice touch. A solid set which had the desired effect, the crowd was fully into everything they did.
Throughout the weekend the stage played a host to a variety of pop acts. The Saturdays and Little Mix did much better than some others would have expected but the less which is said about Connor Maynard’s set the better. Ellie Goulding and Labrinth were the top performers representing the pop contingent with a fun guitar solo from Labrinth during “Earthquake” rubber stamping a rousing performance as the the rain fell on Saturday evening
Foals, Dizzee Rascal and Paramore all went down a storm during their afternoon slots and gave the weekend a meaty backbone other festivals would dream of. The special guests were a fun bonus with the surprise appearance of Robbie Williams a possible olive branch to the star who was deemed “too old” by the station a mere few months ago. The big boys all proved their stature of headliners, Calvin Harris bringing the beats, Biffy Clyro with the riffs and Bruno Mars with the hits. Although it was the Scottish trio who made the biggest impact. A resounding set full of crowd pleasing anthems. Their is no doubting their status as one of the UK biggest bands.
Overall it was incredible weekend of music, a very clean and professionally run event. There were many acts which I didn’t think I’d see in Northern Ireland for a long time and it was great to see the more alternative acts have their day in the sun. One statement which was continually repeated by the acts was how fantastic the crowd was – furthermore pin-pointing the reason why. We are a nation of passionate music fans but we’ve truly been starved of many of these acts. If there is a legacy to be had from this event it is that Derry is a place acts should be visiting. Three dates on a trip to Ireland sounds like good business to me – and with the Venue, well they have a venue to play! Lets hope they keep their promises and see us all very soon.
// Peter Cinnamond – Interviews Editor
What a coup for the City of Culture to be able to attract such a massive event to Derry/Londonderry (the first time Radio One’s Big Weekend has actually returned to a city it’s already been to). Tickets were like gold dust even though the majority of them were going to people in the city and the rest of Northern Ireland. Like many of you I only succeeded in getting a ticket for the Saturday through the online ballot (no fancy press pass for me) although I felt that the BBC could have released some more tickets as there was still plenty of room on the site even for Biffy’s headline set.
While there were plenty of acts on the bill who were not my cup of tea (Kendrick Lamar, Conor Maynard, Iggy Azalea, the Saturdays to name a few) there were more than enough acts on there to capture my attention. There were impressive sets from the Vaccines, Foals, the 1975 and Alt-J but I think the decision to have Two Door Cinema Club open up was wrong. The majority of the audience hadn’t made it in yet and more importantly it forced me to miss Frightened Rabbit who were on the other stage at the same time. Biffy Clyro stole the show with a hit packed set sandwiched between pyrotechnic effects with the highlight a scintillating and strobe-tastic version of Glitter and Trauma. Would I describe Radio One Big Weekend 2013 to be a success? Yes, a brilliant weekend of music that passed off without any trouble, my only major complaint; I didn’t manage to get a ticket for the Sunday.
// Robert Brown – Editor
Went on the Saturday, amazing set up, Kodaline were fantastic and Iggy Azaelia was surprisingly good. Labrinth was sensational! Loved the short sets by each act and the variety of acts on show! Great for Northern Ireland and Derry/Londonderry!
// Ryzo Robinson – Craigavon
I attended three days of R1BW. I seen acts like Ellie Goulding,The Vacines, Labrinth,The 1975, Olly Murs, and Bruno Mars.
All three headline acts stole the show but Paramore , The Script and Bastille weren’t far behind. Dizzie Rascal surprised us all when he brought Robbie Williams out on stage to perform their new single “Going Crazy”, then The Script singing with Labrinth on “Earthquake”. Bastille and The 1975 surprised me because I didn’t think they were going to be that good but they certainly surpassed my expectations. My stand out moment the whole weekend! I was one of the few to get tickets for everyday and they were all brilliant. It was great to have such a big weekend over here in this country.
If I have one bad point it would be Macklemore performing on the second stage. He should have been on main stage. The only reason I’m saying this is probably because I didn’t get to see him! Haha.
// Ciaran McCartan – Banbridge
Simply, Haim stole the show!
// Peter Toner – Coleraine
Went to Saturday and Sunday. Absolutely fantastic fun! My favourite acts I seen were Biffy Clyro, Foals, Vampire Weekend, Haim, Paramore and Ellie Goulding. Loved them all. Biffy and Vampire Weekend probably my favourites though. Surprised by just how incredible Paramore sounded!
// Gerard Brolly – Strabane