Belfast Telegraph

Robbie Williams gets BBC Radio One's Big Weekend in Derry off to a flying start

By Fionnuala O'Kane

It was party time yesterday as Londonderry kicked off three days of fun and celebrations at BBC Radio One's Big Weekend.

The city was simply bursting at the seams with thousands of festival ticket holders in town to see their favourite acts.

Music fans of all ages became a swarming mass of energy that filled Derry’s new venue at Ebrington Square.

Even megastar Robbie Williams joined in the fun by making a surprise appearance in the middle of Dizzee Rascal’s |performance to send the crowds crazy.

The atmosphere was palpable and absolutely electric with a real carnival feel to the day.

The sunshine helped to put everyone in high spirits and created a real party atmosphere.

The unexpectedly warm weather had a massive impact on fashion with many in full in summer festival wear.

There was a lot of flesh on display as temperatures soared, and shorts, skimpy skirts, t-shirts and sunglasses became de rigeur for all partygoers.

However, things got a great deal hotter when Robbie Williams joined Dizzee Rascal on stage and the crowds went crazy.

Singing numbers from his new album, Dizzee and Robbie also performed their new duet Goin’ Crazy to frenzied dancing, singing and screaming from his adoring followers.

With a new more upbeat grown-up house sound, Dizzee Rascal played most of his new album and crowd-pleasing, chart-topping oldies such as Bonkers, Baseline Junkie and Holiday.

Some fans were left disappointed at the announcement that Aluna George and Angel Haze |were unable to make the show.

A Big Weekend spokesman said: “Unfortunately due to the travel disruption affecting Heathrow we’ve had to cancel a few performances but we’ve still got an exciting line-up for our audiences and we’re looking forward to a fantastic weekend of music.”

The mood was not dampened for long as Rudimental, who were also thought to have been unable to make it, appeared on the Main Stage, driving the crowd into a frenzy.

Fans came from all around the UK and Ireland, but most tickets went to people in Northern Ireland.

Kieron Doherty (24), from Derry, said: “I can’t believe that this massive event is happening here in our wee city.

“The crowd is unbelievable, I have never seen so many people here in our town, just all getting on and enjoying themselves. I’m proud to be part of it and to be from Derry.”

Julieanne Casson, from Strabane, was with her daughter, sister-in law and her nephew for the day.

She said: “We are all really enjoying ourselves and having a brilliant day out.

“We loved seeing Dizzee Rascal and Rita Ora. I think the event has been really well organised especially the whole alcohol aspect, they are definitely very strict about seeing ID which is great.

“There is a really good family atmosphere which I’m really pleased about as I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I got four tickets online so decided to take my daughter, sister in law and nephew. We’re all really excited.”

Paul Cresswell (19) flew in from Nottingham during the week, staying with friends in Belfast to make sure he got to the weekend.

He enthused about his visit and said: “This is my first time here in Londonderry and I’m loving it.

“I thought it might be a bit difficult making it here and as I got tickets for each day I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss a thing.

“I’m estatic to be here. I’m a bit disappointed that Angel Haze won’t be performing but seeing Robbie Williams has made my day.”

Leanne (30), a Liverpudlian who ha da serious accident a few weeks ago said: “I had to come in a wheelchair because I had an accident a few weeks ago and broke my leg.

“I thought that I might not be able to make it but I was determined that nothing was going to stop me.

“The staff and facilities here are brilliant, especially when you have a disability. It’s been an amazing day.”

Event headliner Calvin Harris is most people’s act of choice and people were on edge before his appearance.

True to form, DJ legend Zane Lowe hyped up the crowd playing massive hits and getting the excited crowd motivated before Harris came onstage to blow the crowd away.

Luminous face paints, fancy dress costumes and fluorescent clothing made a lot of the more daring crowd members stand out.

Three young Derry men, Orann O’Doherty, Daryl Findly and Michael McCourt took the plunge and dressed up.

Basking in the attention, Michael said: “We decided to dress up because we wanted to attract as much attention as possible.

“We are dressed as a bear, Tony the Tiger and Tiger from Winnie the Pooh. This is the best day of my life so far.”

As the sun set, the festivities carried on late into the first evening of a fabulous, outrageous Big Weekend.

Video highlights

Dizzee Rascale & Robbie Williams - Going Crazy

Rita Ora – Radioactive

Rudimental – Waiting All Night (feat. Ella Eyre)

J Cole – Power Trip

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