The 32-year-old briefly transformed the muddy Dorset field into a sunny, far-flung destination.
Dizzee Rascal was determined to take the Bestival crowd on a ‘Holiday’ with his main stage headline slot last night – despite the grim weather. His Saturday evening set was sprinkled with cuts from latest album ‘Raskit’, but also boasted tracks from his huge back catalogue, including sugar-coated pop bangers such as ‘Bassline Junkie’ and ‘Dance Wiv Me’.
After years of turning out aforementioned populist bangers for a mainstream audience, the man born Dylan Mills took a more reflective turn with ‘Raskit’. While not exactly a grime album, it does echo his brooding 2003 breakthrough ‘Boy In Da Corner’, addressing social issues such as gentrification. And while Dizzee was keen to prove his longevity with a commitment to playing the fresher stuff (which he would often introduce with the words “let’s hear that new album shit!”), it was the dumb, fun, brilliantly boisterous pop songs that got the crowd moving.
“Bestival 2017 my name is Dizzee fucking Rascal,” he shouted at the start of the show. “Let’s get this moving then.” He was in a buoyant mood throughout, turning up the lights to pick out his favourite members of the audience. A dude dressed as everyone’s favourite rodent-shaped superhero took his fancy (“Big up Batman, I see you!”), as did a bloke doing acrobats near the front (“Yo big up the mandem doing backflips, I see you!”).
Since Dizzee recently released a back-to-basics record, curiously timed to follow to resurgence of grime, you’d be forgiven for thinking he currently wants to be taken more seriously as artist. But last night he seemed delighted to perform as the fantastically gifted mainstream entertainer that he was born to be. He even captured the evening by mounting his phone to the bottom of the microphone in order to film the audience as they went batshit crazy.
That’s not to say that there was no appetite for the more uncompromising material that’s bookended his career to date. Pounding early track ‘I Luv You’, for instance, ensured everyone followed his strict instructions to “Bounce!”. But that was nothing compared to the frenzy he incited with the ludicrous ‘Bonkers’ or the sunny ‘Holiday’, which he introduced by lamenting the end of summer: “Cuffing season’s coming, but come with me for one last holiday.”
Despite the politicised nature of ‘Raskit’, Dizzee has often resisted interviews’ attempt to have him talk politics. Yet last night he noted: “There’s a lot of bollocks going on the world right now but we all came together. Peace!” With new material sitting comfortably alongside songs about getting mashed in Magaluf, Dizzee proved that he can have it all.
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