EVOLUTION Festival returned to Newcastle’s Quayside on the diamond jubilee bank holiday (Sunday and Monday) and although back for its tenth year, it failed to sparkle.
Set over two stages, Spillers Wharf and Ballast Hills, unlike three as was the norm in previous years, this year’s line up felt more like a cast of stand-ins rather than the usual list of A-listers that the event has offered in years gone by.
Those who’ve gone year after year have had the chance to enjoy performances from Plan B, Tinie Tempah, Example, Calvin Harris, Tinchy Stryder, The Wombats, Duffy and Hard-Fi to name just some of them. This year though it read more like a list of who was available, rather than a crop of artists likely to capture the imagination of those who’ve paid the £35 plus the booking fee.
The biggest act to grace Evolution Festival with his presence on Sunday was Dizzie Rascal and to be fair to him, he was outstanding. Although it would be easy to seem brilliant after contending with the mediocre Maximo Park for almost an hour, who were awful, Dizzie was still sensational.
He performed all his hits including Bonkers, Holiday, Dirtee Disco and Dance Wiv Me which sounded superb live. His chemistry with the crowd should be noted too, making it look effortless as he kept the pace going even as the rain poured down. His stage lighting and special effects swept round the bouncing crowd and in the hour and 20 minutes he was on stage, Dizzie Rascal managed to more than make up for a pretty dreary opening day.
Miles Kane deserves a mention too because, unlike Maximo Park who failed to get the crowd going, he had those stood in front of the Spillers Wharf stage bouncing as he performed Counting down the Days with a confident swagger.
Over at the Ballast Hills stage, Shy FX and Toddla T both impressed too.
Monday’s acts didn’t have to do much to improve on a some pretty dire performances on Sunday, but Rizzle Kicks, Noah & the Whale and Deadmau5 all shone.
Noah & the Whale had such chemistry with their adoring crowd they even managed to take the time to introduce themselves one by one while in the middle of 5 years time and it was lapped up with aplomb.
All in all though, Evolution Festival felt tired and with a long walk between the two stages, the price of refreshments being pretty steep and a less than star-studded line up compared to years gone by, the message is simply that the organisers must try harder next year because there’s a lot of room for improvement.
To see footage of the festival and the thoughts of those there, click the video above...