Despite many recent festivals being scaled back or cancelled altogether, Laneway Festival bounced back into Adelaide on Friday, 9th Feb, as big and bold as ever. Having outgrown the city laneways several years ago, then Hart’s Mill in Port Adelaide, the venue is now Bonython Park in the western city parklands. A glorious sunny day in the high 20’s meant that the primarily youthful audience were dressed to impress.
Two stages were set up in tandem on the main oval, the “Good Better Best” and “”Never Let it Rest” stages, whilst the “Hart’s Mill” stage was located in the smaller oval, meaning that there was virtually no sound bleed between them and the main stage had a continuous stream of music.
Triple J Unearthed winners, The Tullamarines opened proceedings, with Teenage Dads, Miss Kaninna and Angie McMahon some of the early performers. Young rapper / songwriter d4vd took to the Hart’s Mill stage early afternoon and made a solid impression on the crowd. Meanwhile American singer Faye Webster captivated the audience with a simple stage setup, but a powerful voice.
Dope Lemon is no stranger to Australian festivals with songs mainly taken from his latest album Honey Bones. Then escaping the English winter for the Australian sunshine, singer RAYE also showcased her latest album My 21st Century Blues with all the finesse of the classic jazz blues singers.
Over at Hart’s Mill stage, Confidence Man opened the show with a bare stage save for two black veiled musicians. Suddenly the singing duo, Janet Planet and Sugar Bones bounced on stage, before performing a hot sweaty dance routine with a wall of visuals behind them. Costumes were shed as the performance evolved. Always entertaining, they neverdisappoint.
Rapper AJ Tracey was enthusiastically welcomed by the guys in the crowd. His interaction with them was totally on point, signing some t-shirts and singling out audience members for attention. Dominic Fike had similar kind words for the audience, as Australians were one of the first in the world to support his music. Back over at Harts Mill stage, UK producer Nia Archives performed an engaging jungle and drum and bass influenced set, complete with visuals that she also created.
Despite the negativity from Steve Lacy’s show in Brisbane, he appeared on stage amidst flowing white curtains, before launching into a cover of “Killing in the Name”. A chant of F* Brisbane started up after the third song. A solid set for the American rapper. Meanwhile Skin on Skin, the Australian based DJ and producer from South Sudan was pumping out absolute banger techno music to close the Hart’s Mill stage.
Of course the hotly anticipated headliner was Stormzy and he did not disappoint. With a lavish stage set, multiple backup singers, musicians and pyrotechnics for most of the songs, the British rapper promised a night to remember for 20 years. He did not disappoint. Opening with “Big Michael” and “Audacity” from the 2019 album Heavy is the Head, he then launched into the classic “Know me From”. By this stage he was hot and sweaty, but that didn’t diminish his energy one iota. Stormzy knows how to put a full 100% of energy into his shows and the results speak for themselves. A truly fitting way to close off a full day of exciting music.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
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