Parklife Proves It’s Getting Bigger & Better

Now the biggest Metropolitan festival in the country, Parklife shows no signs of slowing down

Parklife debuted back in 2010, a single day festival at Platt Fields. By 2011 it was already a weekender. And, in 2018 Parklife Festival played host to Mercury Prize winning Sampha, N.E.R.D, The XX, Lorde, A$AP Rocky, Bonobo, Chvrches, Everything Everything and a homecoming performance from Liam Gallagher who made his first return to Heaton Park since Oasis’ famous shows in 2009 across two days. In nine short years, Parklife has blown. With a capacity of 80,000, people genuinely come from all over the UK for the experience.

When it comes to programming music, there are only a few brands that get it right consistently and one of them happens to be Warehouse Project. It’s a brand that attracts a truly global audience to Manchester year after year, spawning countless imitations along the way. As recogniseable as Fabric is to London. So, bringing that global ear for music to Parklife, and coupling it with Sacha Lord- Marchionne’s new appointment as night tsar – where he will be supported in his new role by a night-time economy panel, which will include members from local councils, businesses, public services and other organisations – you start to think all that ‘Northern Powerhouse’ shit might not be a total sheg. But you don’t dare to believe.

Parklife 2018 rolled around on the news that Parklife and Warehouse Project founder Sacha Lord-Marchionne, will become Greater Manchester’s first ‘night tsar’. Back in 2017, Lord- Marchionne (who is a board member of Night Time Industries Association) called on the next Greater Manchester mayor to create the roll of night time champion, he told Manchester Evening News: at the time, “I think we are certainly up there [with cities like London and Berlin] but we are far from a 24-hour city. It is so disjointed. When I stand outside the Warehouse Project I see the taxis that are picking people up and I’m wondering why they have to get a taxi back to Bury when there’s a tram line that’s closed. I don’t see why it can’t be running until 3 AM or 4 AM at the weekends. Even if you put private policing on there, the amount of people who would use it would more than cover the cost.”

In London, Writer, DJ and Performer, Amy Lamé was appointed the city’s first ‘night tsar’ by Mayor Saddiq Khan in 2016, and, in May 2017 Andy Burnham was elected Greater Manchester Mayor. So, Sacha got the call. “I’ll be taking a look at what is missing from our night-time economy, what we need to improve on and developing what is working well.” he said.

The balance of music across eight carefully curated stages of music means that whether you want skank, chill or stomp there’s always something to fit the mood. Saturday opened with Prose ft. Manchester Survivor’s Choir on the Main Stage, introduced by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Parklife 2018 started as it meant to go on with stunning afternoon sets from Sampha, Cassisdead and MNEK.

N.E.R.D lived up to expectation, creating moments that will live long in fan’s memory as Pharrell invited groups on stage. Away from the main stage, The Valley played host to Virgil Abloh on the decks, who surprised the crowd by bringing Octavian out as a guest, AJ Tracey, Giggs, local boy Bugzy Malone and, IAMDDB – who later declared she wouldn’t be performing in her hometown for the next two years at least as she felt the crowd was too stiff. Remains to be seen whether this is the case, but it’s important to remember Parklife is no longer a local event – 80,000 fans paid for the experience and many who’ve come to see artists in the flesh they’ve only heard about from the internet expect to be won over, it’s the way of the performer.

A$AP Rocky closed The Valley on Saturday night, after a nightmare delayed flight he hired a police escort to get him to the stage on time, running from the car straight to the stage. There was just enough time to bring Skepta out for a surprise performance before his mic was switched off.

Sunday saw Dave take to the Sounds of the Near Future Stage while J Hus appeared in a giant fisherman’s hat for his set – although by then the heavens had well and truly opened, and Manchester’s trademark downpour was a world away from Saturday’s sun kissed affair. David Rodigan took command of the infamous Ram Jam stage with Shy FX the special guest and Goldie doing a special ‘94-’96 classic set.

Now the biggest Metropolitan festival in the country, Parklife shows no signs of slowing down, if you’re going with the expectation of ‘real’ fans only or ‘real’ northerners only, you’re going to be disappointed.