It feels like a mini lifetime ago that we stretched out Welly wearing legs around a festival site. The pandemic ravaged live event industry took one of the biggest blows over the last two years as COVID kept us music fans from one of our favourite pastimes, but with us finally seeing the back of two of the worst years in recent times, concert goers just like us here at Renowned For Sound are now enjoying the rewards for our patience as summer starts to unveil itself and the 2022 festival seasons officially begins. And what better way to really kick things off that with one of the musical highlights of the year – Mighty Hoopla.
Widely regarded as the LGBT festival of the music calendar, Mighty Hoopla has become a staple for music fans for several years; camp and pop being two integral elements of its now two day run which sees the Jubilee weekend coinciding with the festivities this year. Previous years have seen the likes of All Saints, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, TLC, Cheryl, Years & Years and Lily Allen all strutting their stuff across the main stages of Mighty Hoopla in previous years, all delivering stellar sets to appreciative fans alongside a wide range of other entertainment figures across its several other stages including famous drag faces from RuPaul’s Drag Race and world class DJ’s, all culminating to create a festival that encourages equality, diversity, inclusion and love.
The team behind the festival once again outdone themselves in terms of securing some of the biggest icons in pop and queer entertainment this year. I mean, you can’t get more camp that pop quintet Steps, who we ADORE so there was no way we were ever going to be missing this year’s 2-day glitter-fest. On top of that, the return of the original founding trio of Sugababes, was an event NOT to be missed.
Here is our highlights from this years Mighty Hoopla….
After collecting our media passes and doing the usual press signups that come with covering any type of live event like a festival, we ventured out into the colourful playground that was Brockwell Park. Like all festivals there were circus style tents pitched and ready to welcome the stars of pop music as well as dozens of food stalls, beer bars and fairground games to entertain the punters between downing pints and catching whoever they had lined up on the WOOV app prior to trekking along to the days festivities. Thankfully the weather was also on our side over both days of the festival so attendees were able to retain the glitter that they had plastered across their outfits and bare skinned bodies.
First on our schedule was an unexpected performance of Tom Aspall. Due to a few alterations to the days running order, Tom was moved up to the main stage and we arrived just in time to hear the singer, who was dressed in tight hot pink spandex, perform Kiss It for the growing crowd.
As the afternoon rolled along and more and more colourful punters arrived, things started to really get going with the Happy Camper and House of Love tents being jam packed; the latter relishing in comedic songs by the likes of bearded drag queen Taylor Trash and other well known drag performers, while the former had DJ outfit Guilty Pleasures working the crowd up with a plethora of camp dance hits.
Mae Muller got the crowd in the full festival mood around 16:45 as she prances around the main stage in a lime green dress singing hits like the crowd pleasing Dick, but the first main stop on our schedule for the day was a look into the House Of Love tent to catch early noughties dance-pop outfit, Booty Luv. These ladies were huge for a hot minute a decade back with a consecutive string of hits so we were chuffed to get to the tent in time to hear some of them including Some Kinda Rush, Don’t Mess With My Man and set closer Boogie 2night tearing the roof off the enormous HoL tent!
Back over on the updated Main Stage, early noughties pop boyband Blue had the packed audience at fever pitch with performances of some of British pop music’s most played radio hits Too Close, One Love – blended in with the Bob Marley hit in acapella style which showcased their continuing vocal unity as a band – and their biggest hit, All Rise; the latter displaying their still very tight vocals making the songs they became famous for sounding as relevant and polished today as they did 20 years ago in the peak Blue years.
As 90’s music aficionados Mighty Hoopla this year wouldn’t feel complete without seeing boyband Five over on the House of Love stage. With founding members Scott, Rich and Sean, the 3-piece offered a frenzied crowd a career retrospective of 90s hits including Let’s Dance, their number one cover of We Will Rock You, Got The Feelin’ – where Scott and Rich filled in effortlessly on the Abs and Jason ‘J’ Brown rap verses, debut single Slam Dunk Da Funk and When The Lights Go Out where Scott took on J’s rap with confidence and precision, while fan favourite If Ya Gettin’ Down had the overflowing House Of Love tent singing every word back to the band that easily carried the punchy hit for all 5 members.
Taking a break to dive into a feast of Caribbean Chicken strips, grab ourselves a figure hugging BABES baby blue wrestling suit and a quick nibble at the brownie stall, we headed back over on the Main Stage we found ourselves planted for the rest of the night with a very pink performance by soulful voiced US superstar, Anastasia who opened with One Day In Your Life before launching into Paid My Dues and a string of hits that has made the US singer one of the biggest stars of the last 20 years; I’m Outta Love being the clear favourite signature hit for the pint sized musician. We had last seen the singer in Sydney and were a tad underwhelmed but her performance at Friday’s Mighty Hoopla was nothing short of astounding as she worked up the crowd with her booming voice and generous digging out of her hits – and I mean, THAT voice! It’s really something. I think we will definitely need to catch the star when she is back in the country this November to perform her next tour of the UK.
As punters moved around to see other acts performing around the festival site, we set ourselves up nice and close to the Main Stage to get ready for the act we came to see – STEPS! We have been fans of Steps since day one – back in 1997 when the quintet released their debut single, 5, 6, 7, 8 and have since seen them at least a dozen times over the years and there was no way we were going to miss the bands opening show of their 2022 25th Anniversary Summer tour. After a brief pop backstage to meet H for a quick photo opportunity (as well as Anastacia and TV personality Rylan, for good measure), we found out position in the tight confines of the eager crowd. After a welcoming introduction by Rylan, who has been a long-time friend of bandmember, Claire, it was time for the iconic 5-piece pop outfit that have garnished us with hits for 25 years and they did not disappoint.
Taking to the stage in impressive, platinum/metallic outfits – appropriate as they celebrate the news of The Platinum Collection which is out in August – the band took us through a greatest hits style collection of hits that included opener Love’s Got A Hold On My Heart, Last thing On My Mind, Say You’ll Be Mine and Stomp while some of the outfits newer its such as Something In Your Eyes, the Michelle Visage collaborative hit, Heartbreak In This City and What The Future Holds found their footing effortlessly amongst their most cherished and nostalgic hits, turning the 15,000+ person field into a giant camp, 90’s flavoured discotheque.
Throwing in a solid cover of Cher’s Believe-era hit, Strong Enough, the band emerged with giant rainbow coloured streamer dressed wings to perform bravely as the wind started to pick up slightly; Faye drawing attention to their optimistic attire for the track while everyone swayed along to ballads One For Sorrow and It’s The Way You Make Me Feel before getting sweaty trying to replicate the dance moves to some of the giants of the bands repertoire such as the Scared of the Dark, Deeper Shade of Blue and the closing, Tragedy, which ended the first day of Mighty Hoopla on a skyrocketed high!
Love’s Got a Hold on My Heart | Summer of Love | Last Thing on My Mind | Something in Your Eyes | 5, 6, 7, 8 | Chain Reaction (Diana Ross cover) | It’s the Way You Make Me Feel | Better the Devil You Know (Kylie Minogue cover) (with rap adapted from Vogue by Madonna) | The Slightest Touch (Five Star cover) | Say You’ll Be Mine | Heartbreak in This City | Strong Enough (Cher cover) | Stomp / Here and Now / You’ll Be Sorry / After the Love Has Gone (Medley) | What the Future Holds | One for Sorrow | Scared of the Dark | Deeper Shade of Blue | Tragedy
Waking up on Saturday was painful. Let’s just start things right there – FACT! We were feeling pretty knackered from the festivities of Friday nights EPIC Mighty Hoopla unveiling but after a quick can (or 3) or RedBull, we were back in the spirit and rearing to go. And rearing to go we did – venturing back to the bustling Brockwell Park for Day 2 of the weekends musical treats. It was Sugababes day after all! A day we have been waiting for nearly twenty years.
As we made our way to the festival ground, Sainsbury’s egg and bacon sandwich in hand and sporting a pretty horrendous hangover, we made it just in time to catch the end of US superstar Macy Gray’s set where she was getting the Saturday crowd warmed up with career highlights including Sexual Revolution and her massive hit, I Try. Heading over to the House of Love tent which was overflowing with 90’s music fans, one of the unexpected highlights of the whole weekend came with early 90’s dance outfit, 2Unlimited. Dance fever took over the tent as the vocal duo, complete with a trio of backing dancers, turned the tent into a giant rave as they unleashed hits like No Limits, Tribal Dance, Get Ready For This and Twilight Zone on a crowd; filling the space with some of the most impressive, rich vocals that we heard over the course of the 2 day event.
Following a couple of ‘hairs of the dog’ ciders to get us back into true festival-mode, we had to take some time out for a dance and catch up with friends over the The Bump; the festivals enormous dance stage and grounds filled with ravers dressed in some of the most impressive outfits seen at the festival. As they danced hits from Absolute, and a string of dancers and drag performers took over the stage, we revelled in the impressive and colourful costume contributions of its punters that really were committed to their 2022 festival clothing reveal.
Back at House of Love 90’s pop princess and former Eternal member Louise delivered a catchy set of nostalgic hits including solo hits Naked and closing All Around The World, but it was the singers nod to her former girl-band career as part of 90’s female foursome Eternal that drew in more numbers and really set a nostalgic tone; numbers like Just A Step From Heaven, So Good and Stay taking us back to the era of British girl-band dominance while a brief acapella of Stuck In The Middle With You by Stealers Wheel showed off the singers crisp, unweathered vocal talents.
After popping by some food stalls and taking in some comedic wit at the Happy Camper tent where drag acts reigned, we returned to House of Love to catch a brief moment with 80’s superstar, Kim Wilde where she performed some of her most famous numbers including her juggernaut Supremes cover of Keep Me Hangin’ On and massive early hit, Kids In America – and looking fabulous in a figure hugging red and black leather jacket.
As 19.30 rolled around it was time for us to commit ourselves once again to the Main Stage where were were hypnotized by pop/soul singer Jessie Ware. Dressed in a gorgeous red, feathered number for the majority of the set, the singer, who had just performed a well acclaimed show at Brixton Academy and was joined by pop royal, Kylie Minogue, glided effortlessly through a pulsating set of hits; our favourite early career classic, Wildest Moments sitting centrepiece within the singers festival slot, before stripping back to reveal a tight black leather number and whip-ended mic to offer a packed field of fans a cover of Kylie’s Kiss of Life, more recent hit, What’s Your Pleasure and closing Save A Kiss – reminding us why she is one of the biggest talents to emerge in British music in the last ten years.
At this point of the day it was certain we were going nowhere – because up next was a set we have waiting for for close to twenty years and the reason many fans at this years Mighty Hoopla were in attendance – SUGABABES. It’s been twenty years since the current, original formation of Sugababes have been together to perform so many of their hits at such a major event in the musical calendar and we were beyond excited to be in the crowd as they took to the stage; the dirty beats of Push The Button reverberating throughout the Mighty Hoopla field as lyrics to the pop track displayed on the giant screen behind the band. The sharply dressed trio were on top form as they took us back in time with Hole In The Head, Stronger, an acoustic performance of Caught In A Moment – showcasing the outfits incredible vocal harmonies, and a cover of garage hit, Flowers which the girls had covered in recent years.
Early One Touch notables Overload and Run For Cover added a nostalgic and sentimental moment to the set as being the only tracks of the night that were originally recorded by all 3 ladies dominating the stage, while a performance of Round Round was the highlight of the set; each member of the group performing the slick, memorable mic-swung choreography of the tracks impressive video.
While both Mutya and Siobhan were not present for the initial album recording of About You Now, they found their place as naturals on the hit alongside Keisha before closing with a grinding performance of number one hit, Freak Like Me. It was a performance like no other and one well worth the twenty year wait as they closed the festival leaving the crowd begging for more and waiting for the bands official return to touring.
It was a weekend like no other and one that we will definitely be making an annual outing to. With tickets already being promoted for next years festival, one should be quick to snap one up because you will not be disappointed at any element of the fun that is on offer.
Push the Button | Overload | Hole in the Head | Too Lost in You | Stronger | Flatline | Run for Cover | Today | Flowers (Sweet Female Attitude cover) | Caught in a Moment (Acoustic) | Round Round | About You Now | Freak Like Me
::: RenownedForSound.com’s Editor and Founder –
Interviewing and reviewing the best in new music and globally recognized artists is his passion.
Over the years he has been lucky enough to review thousands of music releases and concerts and interview artists ranging from top selling superstars like 27-time Grammy Award winner Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, Roxette, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Loeb and iconic Eagles front man/songwriter, Glenn Frey through to more recent successes including Newton Faulkner, Janelle Monae and Caro Emerald.
Brendon manages and coordinates the amazing team of writers on RenownedForSound.com who are based in the UK, the U.S and Australia.