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Live Review: Mighty Hoopla 2024 – 1st & 2nd June 2024 – Brockwell Park, London, UK

10 min read
Our full two-day review of this years iconic and epic @mightyhoopla which saw performances by @EnVogueMusic @_ClaireRichards @CountessLuann @NellyFurtado and @JessieWare

Mighty Hoopla 2024

It’s truly hard to register that the time of the year that we look most forward to has come and gone yet again. Mighty Hoopla festival returned over the weekend for another round in the best offerings of pop and queer culture. The festival has been going for several years now and each year delivers one of THE best line ups in pop, drag and queer arts across several stages and performance spaces in an environment that is as free and inclusive as an event can be. This year was no different as the organisers continued to impress punters with another stellar roster of both homegrown pop royalty and international superstars.

In the days leading up to the event there was mounting concern that the festival may in fact be axed this year due to recent rain causing considerable damage to the site. However, punters were reassured by the Mighty Hoopla team that the green light had been given with wood chips and various ground coverings being laid over the park. And as extra precaution, and in the the fun Mighty Hoopla spirit, they even popped a video post up on social media covering what types of footwear might be sensible for this years event. Thankfully the weekend went without much need for wellies as the sun blazed over London for the most part.

Over the course of its two day residence in Brixton’s Brockwell Park, we managed to catch a plethora of pop’s finest as the event remains a major draw for pop aficionados and camp loving fashionistas.

Photo by Luke Dyson

One of the updated elements of this years Hoopla is the Hayu Stage. Placed quite close to the Main Stage it would seem easy to be able to catch acts performing on both with few clashes, however a few early complaints from punters about positioning of these stages did seem like echoes of last year where fans felt they were missing some of they favourite acts due to timings. Thankfully, with the help of the Mighty Hoopla app this year and its handy ‘Clash Finder’ which we made full use of, we were able to see almost all of the acts we hoped for so didn’t encounter too many of those issues ourselves. As they say, its all in the planning and we certainly did that this year to avoid missing out where possible.

Hoping to get to the park earlier and in time to see Real Housewives of New York star, Countess Luann deliver a much talked about debut cabaret set, we decided to see her the following day to avoid any early clashes. Instead, we made our way straight over to The Bump stage where rising synth-pop singer, Georgia offered a meaty set that included opener, Started Out from the singers Mercury Prize nominated album, Seeking thrills as well as 24 Hours and berlin-esque closer, About Work The Dancefloor which had the heaving crowd bouncing along with the singer who seemed right at home on the Mighty Hoopla stage.

Following a small crowd of fans all dressed appropriately in tribute denim, we made our way over to the Hayu Stage to see  90’s Irish quartet, B*witched offer a rapidly growing Hoopla audience a solid set of some of the groups most prominent hits including up-tempo numbers Rollercoaster, signature hit and set loser, C’est la vie and fan-favourite, Blame It on the Weatherman all proving to be Hoopla highlights.

Photo by Corinne Cumming

Steps superstar, Claire Richards returned to the festival this year following a stellar Main Stage headlining slot two years ago with her bandmates; this time as a solo act to promote her recent disco covers collection, Euphoria where she displayed her incredible vocals to a disco hungry crowd while dominating the stage in a fabulously pink, sequined body suit. She even managed to fit in a duet within the set as she welcomed Aussie pop starlet, Delta Goodrem on stage a day early to the Born To Try’s own Hoopla slot for their rendition of No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).

Though the Steps numbers like Stomp, Tragedy and One For Sorrow that were always going to be the most memorable additions within for any Richards solo performance and would of course come complete with those famous choreographed dance moves that required no encouragement by the singer for the crowd to follow suit. They were invested in this performance right from the opening note.

Photo by Corinne Cumming

We ended the Saturday festivities placed snug within an overwhelming crowd of glittered up music lovers at the Main Stage to watch 90’s girl group icons, En Vogue delight fans with a string of some of their peak decades most successful pop-RnB staples including opening hit, My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) and Whatta Man. Given the nature of Mighty Hoopla, the start of Pride month in the UK and the values that this unique festival stands up for, the performance of anthemic Free Your Mind felt particularly relevant this weekend as it did when it was released back in the early nineties. With its powerful lyrics centred around injustice and speaking up, its seemed the most fitting song of the day and one that was delivered by 3 of the most incredible sets of vocals in the festival line-up. Dressed in matching cut dresses – each member sporting either yellow, orange or pink – the band closed their set with signature ballad, Don’t Let Go (Love) and debut single, Hold On which started as a pitch perfect acapella before merging into the nineties classic, showing off their pristine, unified vocals to a crowd that could happily continue singing along with the RnB superstars for much longer than their limited set allowed.

Photo by Luke Dyson

Closing the Main Stage entertainment for the day was one of the most anticipated acts to have been announced as part of this year’s line-up – Nelly Furtado. While not entirely the most prominent artist on the pop scene right now, a lack of touring in the UK over the last decade could perhaps have contributed to fan desire to see the I’m Like A Bird hitmaker. And that hitmaker did not disappoint.

The singer delivered the gold right off the bat with Say It Right opening proceedings for the set before Maneater had the crowd quickly frenzied and belting along to the super charged and steamy hit. An almost silent and transfixed crowd held on to every note during a gorgeous performance of personal favourite Furtado penning, All Good Things (Come to an End), allowing the audience to really take in the special moment and catch their breath before the energy was once again taken up to fever pitch for signature megahit, I’m Like A Bird.

Photo by Luke Dyson

As the singer danced in a full-length, skintight bodysuit in front of giant flames cast across the screen behind her, fans were slightly perplexed by the song choices following I’m Like a Bird with few long-lasting hits to be heard and some notables missing. While Eat Your Man and Talk About are lovely numbers, they don’t weigh up to the likes of early career highlights Turn Off The Lights or Shit On The Radio from the singers multi-million selling debut album and given the 45 minute duration of her headlining slot, we can’t help but wonder what the purpose of dishing up anything other than career notables was. Thankfully a punchy performance of number one Loose single, Promiscuous helped cap the set and the night off in pure, pop style and we were very much ready for a night’s rest ahead of taking back to Brockwell Park for day two of Mighty Hoopla 2024.

Photo by Corinne Cumming

Thankfully the weather was on our side of the entire Sunday as we ventured into Brockwell Park to collect our press passes. We were appropriately underdressed in the shortest shorts and a vest that would soon be removed alongside thousands of other scantily clad pop aficionados. And this time we arrived dead on time for RuPaul’s Drag Race star Jonbers to welcome Real Housewives of New York star, Countess Luann onto the Hayu Stage. “Welcome to Countess Cabaret and Happy Gay Pride” the Countess declared before diving into an eclectic set of songs ranging from an opening cover of Lady Marmalade, a performance of Miley Cyrus’ Flowers and a sat-down, down-tempo cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams through to more well-known Countess ‘classics’ including Feeling Jovani and Money Can’t Buy You Class which had all the Housewives fans in the crowd singing along to the diva who was less about vocal quality than she was about showmanship.

Photo by Corinne Cumming

Dressed in a beautifully crafted cocktail number which showed off the New York stars incredible figure, fun was poked at her onscreen antics during a cover of Bonnie Raitt’s Something To Talk About as clips from the stars time on the reality show were displayed as the screen backdrop including footage of her arrests and holiday antics with her castmates while new song Marry F Kill was propelled along with images of the cabaret stars love life being given the spotlight treatment. While not the greatest singer on the festival line-up, the show was one of the most entertaining of the weekend for many including myself.

Dancing alongside a backing troupe of 6, pint-sized S Clubber Rachel Stevens drew in the crowds with the dance-pop sounds of Some Girls and pop banger, Sweet Dreams My LA Ex ringing across the park early on in the day, although it was during her performance of S Club 7’s Natural – one of only a mere 6 songs to make up her set – that fans could be heard talking about the fact the singer wasn’t singing a lick of a live note, leaving her performance less of a return to solo glory and more of a mediocre lip-sync by the singer who instead encouraged her fans to sing for HER.

Photo by Luke Dyson

After witnessing some crowd surfing courtesy of Irish Eurovision contestant, Bambie Thug who wowed the crowds with her last minute Hoopla performances of Doomsday Blue, we ventured back over to the Hayu Stage for a spectacular performance by All Saint, Shaznay Lewis. Having recently seen Lewis perform her very first solo show at Camden’s Jazz Café last month, we were eager to see how she would fair in a festival setting, having come across quite nervous at her headlining show. Fans made the singer feel at total ease as she ran through songs from her brand-new record, Pages, including Missiles, Kiss of Life and Good Mourning. Much like her Jazz Café gig, it was All Saints hits Black Coffee, Never Ever and Pure Shores that got the crowd singing along to the 90’s hitmaker. Dominating the Hayu stage in a big silver puffer jacket and a smile from ear to ear, it was great to see the iconic singer/songwriter celebrate an incredibly well-received Hoopla set.

Feeling a little like a glitter-laden yo-yo at this point, bouncing our way between the two featured stages, we made our way back to the Main Stage to catch Goldfrapp singer, Alison Goldfrapp’s set which included songs from the musician’s most recent solo record, Love Invention. So Hard So Hot and Never Stop were winning numbers amongst Goldfrapp classics Ride A White Horse, Number One, Rocket and Ooh La La as the singer delivered her impeccable and distinct vocals while strutting the stage in a fluffy multi-coloured coat.

As with previous editions of Hoopla, Louise was a highlight back over at the Hayu Stage, impressing the crowd with her unweathered vocals and incredible figure; showing herself off in a super stylish outfit made up of black underwear, white shirt, black jacket and tie during career notables that included Arms Around The World and Naked while fellow former Eternal bandmate Kelle Bryan joined the star onstage for a nod to their former girl group glory days in the shape of So Good while fellow Eternal hit, Just a Step From Heaven also found space into the singers set.

Photo by Sarah Louise Bennett

At this stage we decided to venture over to The Bump for a bit of a dance with friends and opt not to catch Rita Ora’s set. We were pretty thankful for this after hearing some less-than-complimenting comments about the Hot Right Now hitmakers underwhelming and tech-issue-filled performance on the Main Stage and with that we decided to remain at The Bump until it was time for a quick bite to eat and to make our way to the Main Stage as our final Hoopla destination of the weekend to catch the always remarkable, Jessie Ware.

Having gotten so close to the headlining spot two years ago, it was great to see Ware exactly where she should be and relishing in every moment of it as she delivered a truly incredible performance for a jam-packed Hoopla crowd. Taking fans through her career with performances of notables including phenomenal live renditions of Remember Where You Are, the sexy Spotlight and the catchy Save A Kiss, a camp cover of Cher’s Believe and a duet of Gossip hit, Standing In The Way Of Control which saw surprise guest Beth Ditto join the superstar on stage ticked all of the boxes for the plethora of happy gays and girls in the overflowing grounds of Brockwell Park. Ware was a very worthy headliner to close out 2024’s Hoopla and as cannons of paper ribbons exploded over the crowd, it was a sad but celebrated moment for yet another successful year of the incredible Mighty Hoopla festival.

Photo by Luke Dyson