Global Gathering



Long Marston Airfield
Stratford-upon-Avon
25 to 27 July 2008

Mark Ronson. Photo credit: siagrafica. C.C. License.Kanye West was said to have come to Global Gathering - Britain's largest dance festival - with 18 coaches full of supplies to upstage Jay-Z's performance at Glastonbury. If he did drive to Stratford-upon-Avon's Long Marston Airfield in such full force, his set was inexplicably toned down for the 25,000-strong audience.

He made up for the un-Kanye-like simplicity with a characteristically large dose of attitude, showing the masses of ravers before him why his tracks like Stronger and Gold Digger have shot to the top of the UK charts. All those fans dancing in the crowd with their West-style striped sunglasses on well past dark seemed to really heat up for the tracks from their 'American Boy's' latest album, Graduation.

Speaking of heat, temperatures onsite shot up to baking level on Saturday, but thankfully cooled down (if only slightly) for Sam Sparro's performance of Black and Gold. By the time Swedish poplet Robyn hit the stage in her tyre-print catsuit (what else?), the heat had calmed enough for sunburned ladies in various stages of intoxication to belt out slams like "you're a selfish, narcissistic, psycho-freaking, bootlicking Nazi creep, and you can't handle me." For all the sets of the two-day festival, Robyn's was one of spunkiest and most entertaining.

That was before Mark Ronson and his Version players. (Skipping over Irish electronica girl Roisin Murphy seeming to fake her own death on stage in a Gareth Pugh-type fringe number.) Despite seeming a bit 'relaxed' - too much pre-partying, Mark? - Daisy Lowe's main squeeze made the Global audience fall in love with him. With a crowd that had grown to about 55,000 by then, that's plenty of love.

His set was filled with guest appearances from the likes of Chicago rapper Rhymefest (a friend of Kanye's) and Wiley, who helped Mark cover his hit Wearing My Rolex. The crowd went craziest, though, for Daniel Merriweather belting out Stop Me for the finale. As for Mr Ronson? He seemed to be having a good time - a really good time - the whole night. "This is the best crowd ever we've ever played to!" shouted Mark. "And that includes a little town called Glastonbury."

- Jill Hilbrenner