Reviewed: Parklife Festival 2022
Parklife Festival 2022 returned to Heaton Park for its first summer spectacle since pre-covid times, bringing along 50 Cent, Tyler the Creator, Megan Thee Stallion, Lewis Capaldi and 80,000 music fans for the ride. However, it was the star-studded dance music line-up that we got our teeth stuck right into.
First things first, let’s talk about the stages… I’ve been to Parklife four times now, but this year was my favourite yet; the festival has evolved and adapted so much over the years. I was sceptical to return this year, thinking about the squashed tents where you can’t get in to see anyone you want to see; however, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the tents have now been replaced with outdoor stages, meaning that almost every artist was accessible.
There has clearly been a lot of thought that has gone into the stage designs, with each stage fitting the vibe of the genre or artist they were hosting. However, the only issue with mostly outdoor stages is that you could regularly hear the thudding bass from another stage whilst seeing another artist.
Also, hosting ‘20 Years of Metropolis‘ on possibly the smallest indoor stage at the festival on the Sunday wasn’t the wisest idea. Sadly, I had to leave Dimension’s set early because there just wasn’t enough space in the tent. Next year, please don’t put the drum and bass in the tiniest tent!
Moving on to the artists, on the Saturday I was lucky enough to catch Salute, Shy FX and Chase & Status Live.
Salute stole the Saturday. His energy is so contagious, bouncing around the stage and singing along to his track, ‘Joy’ and the other tracks he mixes in so seamlessly. His sparkling euphoric track selections had the crowd captivated and he really injected the energy and good vibes into the G-Stage that I hadn’t seen until his set.
Over at The Valley stage, Shy FX warmed up the afternoon crowds nicely as the sun shone onto the fields. Varying between his hard-hitting drum and bass and reggae roots, ‘Original Nuttah’ and ‘Roll The Dice’ went down a storm with the Manchester crowd.
Chase & Status closed The Valley stage on the Saturday with a live performance which was truly mesmerising. It was a breath of fresh air to see them perform the classic Chase & Status hits, whilst intertwining in aspects of ‘RTRN ll JUNGLE’ alongside their new music. The crowd seemed to go wild at the nostalgic tracks from the early Chase & Status days, with the 2009 track with Plan B, ‘Pieces’ being a highlight.
The Sunday had the arguably better lineup for my liking, with Jayda G, Overmono, Dimension, Fred Again… and Bicep on my list. It was also the day that the ’20 Years of Metropolis’ stage was there, and even though I vowed I’d try to see artists I hadn’t already seen, it’s always too hard to resist.
Jayda G is a woman who is born to perform. Stepping out in front of the decks to dance with the crowd, her aura is glowing and soon pulled everyone out of their lulls from having partied the day before too. Donning a pink two-piece with fluffy cuffs, her outfit, her vibe and her music were electric, and I can’t wait to see where she goes next.
Onto the highlight of the whole weekend, Fred Again… I honestly haven’t stopped telling people about his set since I saw it, it was INCREDIBLE. Coming onto stage with another musician Tony, they both performed an impeccable live set and I’ve not felt that emotional whilst watching and listening to music in a long time. Fred is so humble and appreciative on stage and encapsulates a warm feeling of togetherness. Each song is an honest story and he makes the effort to involve and talk to everyone at the show. ‘Loving Arms’ was the obvious highlight and closer of his set, as everyone wrapped their arms around their friends.
The plan was to see Bicep next, but as we passed the ’20 Years of Metropolis’ Stage on the way, I couldn’t resist having a peek. I knew Sub Focus was on and I just wanted to hear one song. But that one song led to an entire set…
Sub Focus and MC ID know how to work a crowd. Dipping in between new Sub Focus music and the classics like ‘Tidal Wave’, Sub Focus tore through his dancefloor drum and bass set flawlessly; I was so glad we decided to stay for it.
I have to honestly say, before going to this year’s Parklife I was dubious as to if I would enjoy it. However, it exceeded my expectations by miles and I wouldn’t hesitate to return next year if the lineup is just as good.