Party In The Park : London Hyde Park

It's mad bonkers pop thrills a-plenty, as Destiny's Child, Wyclef, Atomic Kitten, Shaggy, Geri and literally at least 20! more! acts! wow the kids at Party In The Park...

It's traditional that Party In The Park kills the summer. Last year it was the toytown Glasto, all torrential downpours, Sisqo going arse over tit and the near-undoing of Kylie (out of sync, but still not out of favour). This year, we watch the sun disappear behind grimy October-style clouds, learn of Henman's defeat as Usher does his pec-flexing schtick, and wonder whether this soggy fandango can claim the crown of Pop Event Of The School Holidays when Madonna's been in town.

Well, actually, it can, simply by the sheer scale of the thing - close to thirty acts, simultaneous broadcast on TV, radio and the web, and a breathless pace (rarely more than two or three songs each) only held-up when one of Lil Bow Wow's DJ's decks breaks down and Dr Fox has to witter on for what seems like several days in an attempt to keep the crowd buoyant. The scream that greets the diminutive rapper is less for his appearance and more for Foxy's exit, we imagine.

Not that there's any of the tension normally associated with rain-sodden festivals here. The kids go crazy for everything. Well, almost: when - after running through truly appalling versions of 'Pure And Simple' and 'The Way To Your Love', all of them honking wildly and tunelessly in an attempt to out-bellow each other - Hear'say's Kym asks who's going to come and see them live in September there's a cringingly embarrassing silence. Their moment is over.

Aside from the Popstars' hollering, and the whiney screech of this generation's Spin Doctors, Wheatus, it's a blitzkrieg of bonkers pop moments. Delusional witch Geri romps through 'Scream If You Wanna Go Faster' (miming, obviously, like a1, despite this claiming to be an all-live event - yeah, right) while her breasts are licked by 'Addicted To Love'-esque female backing singers; Wyclef crams his three-hour stage-show into 15 minutes of turntable trickery, freetstyling and vaudeville hiphop moves, duetting with the scarily gruff Anastacia on an excellent '911'; Ronan Keating, gearing up to attack America and dressed in obligatory Gap-rock fatigues, has turned into Bryan Adams; while Shaggy, it has to be said, is just ace, a grinning mad showman who even manages to get a (hardly overawed, bizarrely) girl up on stage to help him out with 'Angel'.

And then, of course, there's Destiny's Child, who storm around the stage like a trio of Cleopatras preaching to the minions of their empire. They even bring the sun out; and despite Dame Dane Bowers' damp squib of a performance with Lulu and Errol Brown claiming the title of 'finale', it's Beyonce who brings this deranged beano to a fitting end. She reminds you that the summer's not over just yet, kids. It could still be, like Destiny's Child, glorious.

Christian Ward

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