Why We’re Excited About MIA’s Bestival Return

Bestival kicks off tonight, and there’s plenty of stellar stuff to come over the weekend on the Isle of Wight. The Flaming Lips and Fatboy Slim tomorrow, Franz Ferdinand and Snoop Dogg on Saturday and Chic and Elton John on Sunday, to name but six.

The return I’m most excited about, though, is happening tonight in the festival’s Big Top. Maya Arulpragasam, or M.I.A. to use her nom de guerre, takes to a UK stage for the first time since her brief, abortive appearance with Jay Z during the Hackney Weekend in June last year. (She was only intending to play two songs, ‘Bad Girls’ and ‘Paper Planes’, but somebody somewhere forgot to turn her microphone on.) It will be the first time she’s played a full set of her music in this country since way back in 2010.

What makes the occasion even more exciting is that it comes ahead of her long-delayed fourth album ‘Matangi’ finally seeing the light of day. We can expect her to play a handful of songs from it: the aforementioned and already anthemic ‘Bad Girls’, the ferociously direct call-to-arms ‘Bring The Noize’ and the wildy inventive ‘Come Walk With Me’, which last night got a suitably colourful Hinduism-inspired lyric video:

Have a listen to that and tell me one other artist on the planet who’d blend Blur’s ‘Charmless Man’, traditional Indian music and a sample of the sound a Mac makes when you turn the volume up? Nobody else would, because there’s nobody quite like MIA. The last time she was reviewed live by NME, at Cruïlla Festival in Barcelona, our reviewer wrote that she displays “the sort of raw power displayed by the previous night’s headliners, Iggy & The Stooges”. That’s what we’ve got to look forward to at Bestival, and with a bit of luck at more live dates when the album is released on 5 November.

Well, just as long as they turn her mic on this time.

M.I.A.’s most recent setlist, from 10 August 2013 at Makuhari Messe, Chiba, Japan:

‘Only 1 U’
‘Bring the Noize’
‘Bucky Done Gun’
‘Bird Flu’
‘Bamboo Banga’
‘Come Walk With Me’
‘Story To Be Told’
‘Born Free’
‘Paper Planes’
‘Bad Girls’