Wireless Festival review: All hail the queens of rap

Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park 2022

Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park 2022 - Credit: Isha Shah

Wireless Festival

Finsbury Park

****

After three long years, Wireless was back in Finsbury Park with some of the biggest names in urban music performing over three days.

After Cardi B’s headlining set on Friday, on Saturday it was the turn of American R&B singer SZA to close the show with a powerhouse performance full of special effects.

SZA performed on a stunning set with giant lighthouse, dock and wave effects

SZA performed on a stunning set with giant lighthouse, dock and wave effects - Credit: Isha Shah

Her first UK appearance since 2018 opened with the star atop a lighthouse performing her Kendrick Lamar collaboration “All the Stars” as the lamp flashed over the audience. Centred around a huge lighthouse with a dock and screens creating realistic waves, the set and effects were a sight to behold. Not one to rest on her laurels - or even lighthouse - SZA delivered a sensational performance with choreographed dances and gorgeous vocals on Good Days, 20-something and Love Galore.

Lil Baby at Wireless Festival 2022

Lil Baby at Wireless Festival 2022 - Credit: Ben Awin

The crowd sang along to every word of the emotive set as SZA proved herself to be a major headlining talent.

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Earlier, there were performances from Kaash Paige, BLXST, 6lack and a standout set from Jack Harlow whose confident delivery of hit songs Whats Poppin', Industry Baby and First Class went down a treat. The Kentucky rapper was joined on stage by Manchester artist Aitch and even a fan to duet on Churchill Downs, his recent collaboration with Drake. With his engaging audience interaction he's staking a claim as an artist destined for the top - watch out for him headlining here in years to come.

H.E.R at Wireless

H.E.R at Wireless - Credit: Alex Piper

It was a shame that H.E.R arrived 20 minutes late, which meant her set was shorter than planned. But in the time left, the singer showed supreme talent, genre-hopping from R&B to a rock medley to playing both electric and acoustic guitar - backed by her stunning vocals. Fans were left wanting more but she was cut off just before taking to the drum kit.

Summer Walker turned the stage into a tropical paradise full of palm trees, but the energy in the crowd soon overwhelmed the singer to the point of crying. She explained she wasn’t sure if it was pregnancy hormones or the sheer love showed by the London crowd. After cancelling tour dates in 2019 due to social anxiety, her Wireless performance was one of defiance and power.

Summer Walker at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park

Summer Walker at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park - Credit: Isha Shah

Sadly security concerns and logistical issues tarnished the festival's climactic final day, which saw sets by Nicki Minaj, Lil Baby, and Polo G. Things got off to a hectic start with reports of people jumping over fences to cut queues and Police were called to assist security.

There was also issues with the line-up as Lil Durk withdrew on the day to be replaced by Popcaan. Also long delays before Lil Baby and headliner Nicki Minaj meant sets were cut short to meet the strict 9.30pm curfew.

Nicki Minaj performs at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park

Nicki Minaj performs at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park - Credit: Isha Shah

Lil Baby made up for lost time delivering a lively performance with hits, such as Drip Too Hard and Yes Indeed which had the crowd jumping around in the 30 degree heat. Anticipation for Minaj's set was already palpale when it was announced the rapper was running late. After half an hour she arrived to overwhelming applause from the legions of Barbies in the audience and performed a 45-minute set of back-to-back hits Anaconda, Beez in the Trap, and Superbass - before being joined by US rapper BIA for Whole Lotta Money (Remix).

Tardiness was forgiven as an adoring crowd sang along along with their "queen of rap", and despite the problems, the weekend showcased a brilliantly entertaining female-dominated line-up.