UK City of Culture rocks for Radio 1 Big Weekend


I’ve  just been watching the video stream of Day Two of the Radio 1 Big Weekend in Derry for a few hours, on and off. (I fess up. My daughter is an executive producer of the event.  For variety during the cultural initiation I opened up other windows to sound off in Slugger about political reform; that explains it ). That said  the event  won me over. It  looks great, terrifically well staged, well filmed, good sound and really charged  on video stream.  The famous shared space of Ebrington Square rocked with thousands of Derry and Donegal  kids bopping away, with the new view of the Guildhall over the Peace Bridge. Yesterday’s Heathrow cancellations didn’t put a dampener on the biggest climax so far of UK City of Culture.  And folks the sun has been shining all day! The crowd began busy with room to spare but built up to packed in a space that boasts it’s bigger than Trafalgar Square. Not bad for a catchment area of 100,000.

The stream began with the Bangor band Two Door Cinema Club led by a sweet kid called Trimble. Red haired, musical, a leader, a Bangor boy. Couldn’t be related could he?  Nah,too cheery by half.

Amazing the ability of DJs Nick Grimshaw, Huw Stephens  Colin Maynard and Jameela Jamil to witter on endlessly with utter confidence, their faces barely changing expression while their voices go up and down. Lots of talk about poo, wee and nudity, all very cool and ironic I think.  Apologies were repeated for the “language” of the Vaccines but  how anybody  could make out a word  I  don’t know.Apology is as far as the broadcaster’s writ runs in these events.

One frisson moment came when I thought Ellie Goulding was going to refuse to go on. She was cued early or she was dragging her feed frozen looking in her black skimpies and drinking what the DJs inevitably called wee looking liquid. But she warmed up and saved the day with quite a lyrical set..

For the uninitiated  most these  genres of music aren’t  melodic but are based on  repetitive simple phrases and rhythm that somehow hook on . Philip Glass must feel gratified. The chat is  pretty introverted, the presenters joshing among themselves and  allowing  very little interaction with the locals that I saw. However these are oldie quibbles. For me with a 60 years of memories, the Big Weekend in Derry/Londonderry ( sic)  is still a minor miracle.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London