LIVE: Parklife Festival, Heaton Park, Manchester

Well, I’ve just about processed how great of an occasion Heaton Park saw last weekend. Parklife Festival returned for its 9th year and was headlined by The XX and Manchester’s own and finest Liam Gallagher. For as long as I can remember, the weekend was a complete sell out and unlike recent years, Heaton Park wasn’t reduced to an absolute bog as warm weather beamed down on festival attendees for the majority of the weekend.

Organisationally, I’ve always felt that Parklife has come into its own in comparison to other major players in the festival game however I’ve seen a fair bit of fuss on social media (mostly Twitter) about the festival being oversold and crammed. Contrary to the minority on Twitter moaning, I felt that Parklife was even more spacious and free than ever before as I had no problems moving from stage to stage whilst still being able to see my favourite artists without any worry. There’s a certain element of tactics involved with festivals to ensure you see your earmarked performances at their given times – something I feel people need to remember!

Moving swiftly on from the negativity, a great blend of diverse music was on offer throughout the weekend from grime, indie and Parklife’s main selling point in dance music. Many would’ve pinpointed Denis Sulta’s set as the one to watch in terms of dance music for the weekend and although I’m not his biggest fan – he really didn’t disappoint. He’s been known to drop anything and everything from Destiny’s Child ‘Lose My Breath’ to the cult classic ‘Meet Her At The Love Parade’ but I think even he surprised a few by dropping Kylie Minogue’s ‘Love At First Sight’. Although the tune has it elements of disco and groove, I didn’t expect to hear it at Heaton Park last weekend.

Another standout for me was the legendary MK. Marc Kinchen (not to be confused with Jamie Jones, as famously done so by a few Parklifers a couple years back) has been in the game since it started and has constantly evolved and kept his sound current as he blends his old sound into the new. It’s been a huge year for him yet again with his release of club anthem ‘17’ and his set opener demonstrated the amount of craft the American has put in down the years as his biggest hits were flashed through before dropping his own remix of ‘Piece of Me’ featuring Becky Hill. I still can’t believe his innovative ways still sees him at the top of the food chain within dance music – similar to house royalty Carl Cox who also performed over the weekend.

Sunday night was drawn to a close in a fitting and emotional way. Just over a year on since the city fell victim to a cruel act of terror, Manchester showed once again its togetherness and solidarity as Liam dedicated an acoustic version of ‘Live Forever’ to the 22 souls who sadly lost their lives in the attacks. Liam said: “This one’s for the people who lost their lives in the Manchester bombing. I’ve had my moments. Done my drinking, done my swearing. But when I want to show my softer side, come with me.”

I think that’s a thought I want to end this review on. Having lived that way for 3 years and often still visiting Manchester, it’s one hell of a city inhabited by wonderful people. Parklife you’ve done it again and I cannot wait to see what the 10th anniversary brings next year.

Matt Cooper