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!"
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 4 The response to my Pizza Express review has been overwhelming, and taught me a lot about journalism
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes