Pop: Jam in the Park Finsbury Park, London
Friday 13 June 1997
British soul rappers Urban Species, and in particular their feel-good hit "Spiritual Love", caught the afternoon's mood. Even so, you got the same nagging feeling watching them that comes with watching Casualty after ER - everyone is fiddling with the right instruments but somehow you'd rather Dr Ross was on the end of them than Charlie. Try hard as they did, Urban Species looked like understudies to the sublimely loopy Pharcyde. Pratting about like Finsbury Park was their LA backyard, the only dangerous thing about this nutty rap trio was their drive-by wit: "Ya mama's so wack, she gotta afro witta chinstrap."
Not much tickled Lamb, on the other hand. Their breakbeats and indie- girl-in-a-strop formula nonplussed a party crowd, who also largely ignored the innovative spin given by Ragga & The Jack Magic Orchestra to the "enigmatic boffins + barmy diva" angle. If you had ever wondered what Billie Ray Martin doing Bjork on Stars in their Eyes might look like, Ragga gave us a tantalising insight.
Back on the main stage, Neneh Cherry was rapidly confirming her status as the Judi Dench of Britpop. Given that your average jazz-funker does nothing more violent to a guitar than indulge in a little slap-bass now and then, the laid-back festival crowd bore Dame Neneh's "rawk" tendencies with commendable dignity. Still, it was anthemic renditions of "Manchild" and "Seven Seconds" that won your heart even if her range (X-Ray Specs to Gershwin) appealed to the muso within.
If Neneh had nothing to prove, then nu-soul wonder Erykah Badu took to the stage like she owned Finsbury Park. Though the intimacy of her Billie Holiday-with-beats virtues may have been lost, the presence of the 25- year-old, in white robe and head-dress, and the steely expressiveness on songs such as "Rim Shot" mesmerised the audience.
With such formidable support, no wonder Jay Kay looked like someone had nicked his favourite Stevie Wonder record when he appeared on the 40ft screens. Jamiroquai's heritage funk was always going to get a rapturous reception, but you sensed that the band wanted you to take them, like, seriously, man. For every great tune ("Cosmic Girl", "Virtual Insanity", "Space Cowboy"), we had to endure extended instrumental workouts and not one but two didgeridoo solos. Jay Kay needn't take his carefully preserved retro-groove so seriously. As he said to a fan hanging perilously from a tree: "Watch yourself, mate! No one dies at a Jamiroquai gig!"
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 3 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
- 4 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Star Wars 7: George Lucas admits he hasn't seen The Force Awakens trailer
Star Wars: Rogue One trailer: Watch the teaser for the Jedi-less Death Star heist film
Avengers: Age of Ultron: 'After credits' scene leaks online
Groundhog Day musical to premiere at Old Vic from Matilda theatre director
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate