Jay-Z, The Specials kick off Coachella festival as volcanic ash continues to cause chaos

Them Crooked Vultures, LCD Soundsystem and Tom Morello also play sets at the US bash

Coachella festival got off to a hectic start yesterday (Friday April 16) as the Icelandic volcanic eruption played havoc with the schedule.

The main casualty of the day’s bill were The Cribs who were stranded in Europe despite a last minute dash to Amsterdam in the hope of finding a flight to California. Other confirmed cancellations over the weekend include Bad Lieutenant and Frightened Rabbit. Gary Numan is also rated as unlikely to make it in time for his Sunday evening performance.

Friday afternoon’s highlights included a glut of unexpected cover versions being played around the site. On the main (Coachella) stage, Tom Morello‘s new band Street Sweeper Social Club delighted fans with rock versions of MIA‘s ‘Paper Planes’ and a take on LL Cool J‘s old school hip-hop classic ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’. Meanwhile, She And Him entertained their audience on the Outdoor stage with a version of Chuck Berry‘s ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ sung by M. Ward with Zooey Deschanel providing honky-tonk piano accompaniment.

The Specials drew a hugely enthusiastic crowd for their appearance, which is part of the Coventry ska heroes’ first American tour since 1981. Despite the hyperactive atmosphere, singer Terry Hall remained very still and deadpan throughout. “We’re going away in about three minutes,” he remarked before the finale of ‘Too Much Too Young’. “‘Columbo’ is on at eight o’clock and I never miss an episode.” Them Crooked Vultures and LCD Soundsystem both followed on the main stage, turning in solid sets before Jay-Z arrived at 11.15pm for his Friday night headline slot. The rapper made his entry in typically grand style by being elevated up to stage level on a moving platform.

Much of the 90-minute set featured guitars with samples and backing tracks from The Doors, The Prodigy and even U2 being added in at various junctures. In an echo of last year’s Glastonbury performance, he also used a breakbeat-augmented snippet of Oasis‘Wonderwall’. Towards the end of the show, Jay-Z devoted a segment of the set to cover early parts of his career which culminated in a mass sing-a-long of ‘Hard Knock Life’. He then invited Beyonce on stage to duet with him on the finale of ‘Young Forever’ as fireworks lit up the desert sky behind them.

The festival continues until Sunday and scheduled performers include, MGMT, Muse, Pavement, Thom Yorke/Atoms For Peace and Gorillaz. Keep checking NME.COM for further updates.