Rouken Glen Park
September 24-26th 2021
As music festivals go, Playground Festival, in Glasgow’s Rouken Glen Park, was one of the most relaxed and chilled events of this year. It featured some top-line acts including The Libertines, James, GlasVegas (…even Boy George was sorry to have missed them!) Sister Sledge, featuring Kathy Sledge, Macy Gray, Nile Rogers and CHIC to name a few. Despite crowds of around 10,000 on each of the three days, and the good old Scottish weather being as varied as the music and entertainment, somehow the atmosphere was still intimate, friendly and warm.
Friday night had got off to a roaring start with sensational performances from the likes of home-grown band, Glasvegas, James and The Libertines.
Saturday was a day for all the family and all ages. While there were plenty of games and acrobatics to keep the kids entertained, many youngsters joined the hipsters and the hippies in simply loving live music and dancing to the tunes.
Without a doubt, the Colonel (John McAlindon and the Dijon 5) cut the mustard when it came to kicking off the party on the main stage. Like Moses parting the waves, he split the crowd in two halves and had them ferrying themselves from one side of his self-styled yellow brick road (in reality, a yellow cable ramp) to the other. All this while the horns blasted out the best road safety tune ever: “Cross The Road”. “We’re a fun party band,” frontman John told PCN. “I’m just like one of the punters who likes performing.”
Earlier in the day, on the Playpark stage, Dundee-based band, Beta Waves drew in steadily increasing crowds, with their electro-pop synth sounds, backlit by colourful and mesmerising graphics. Meanwhile, deep in the forest stage Optimo and other DJs proved a popular hiding place throughout the day and into the night for many festival goers.
Back on the main stage, the legendary Sister Sledge, fronted by Kathy Sledge, saw the disco divas in the crowd vying for the title of ‘The Greatest Dancer’. Kathy was one of the festival’s several ‘honourary’ performers. Now in her early 60’s, Kathy Sledge and her ’sistas’ wowed the crowd with immaculate performances of the band’s hits including ‘Lost in Music’, ‘Thinking of You’ and of course, ‘We are family’.
Back over on the Playpark stage, Roisin Murphy went down a storm, with outfit changes galore and a great selection of tunes – rumour has it that she enjoyed the Glasgow atmosphere so much, that she went to the Sub Club with her pals afterwards!
Highlight of the night and headlining the main stage was Boy George and Culture Club. When George finally did appear through the dry ice Scottish mist, he did not disappoint. His hat – always worthy of comment – was an Egyptian blue number detailed with green and yellow spots and symbols, and his black jacket, which featured his own artwork design, told its own tale. In honour of the Scottish audience, George wore a red and black tartan kilt ensemble and gold-coloured shoes.
Like many at the festival, Boy George, who turned 60 this year, had expected to come out to an older crowd but he informed us with his razor-sharp wit: “I don’t do old.” Neither did the audience. George still has the voice. He totally owned the stage and the crowd. His band performed in spectacular fashion under his experienced guidance and the crowds delighted and danced to a mix of covers, newer tunes and all-time oldies including: ‘Church of the Poisoned Mind’, ‘Karma Chameleon’, ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’? ‘Victims’…the list goes on, as does Boy George and his band Culture Club. Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls: you’re never too old to be bold!