A Mighty Finish To Hoopla Weekend 2024

It’s time for one of the weekend’s big guns as I head over to get a good spot for Rita Ora. She’s not due on for another 10 minutes but it’s already busy, however I’m able to get what seems a decent spot next to the sound desk. There’s a bit of a delay (seems the heat may be causing technical issues) and then the show starts with… Rita’s new video. The woman knows a captive audience when she sees one! Soon though, the pop star emerges to huge cheers and the set proper begins with Ritual, her Tiësto cover. There’s another tech issue so she has to restart but everyone is in good form and Rita’s energy and ability to work the crowd is winning the day. Unfortunately, where I’m standing the volume is way too low – this often seems to be the case at London festivals due to noise restrictions, but this is particularly quiet – I can hear people chatting all the way through her set.

Rita Ora @ Mighty Hoopla 2024

Rita Ora @ Mighty Hoopla 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)
Rita Ora @ Mighty Hoopla 2024 (Kalpesh Patel)

Nonetheless we’re all here for a good time and Rita rattles expertly through I Will Never Let You Down, Let You Love Me and Your Song. A cover of ABBA classic Dancing Queen and Praising You get the crowd going. There’s a comedy moment where she goes down to the crowd and asks several people to join her in singing acapella but nobody knows the words, and in the chaos she ends up singing the wrong song herself. But the 33-year-old is so relaxed and good-natured throughout this series of unfortunate events, that we all laugh along with her. She’s a total pro, her performance on point – it’s just a shame the low speaker volume and some technical problems are letting her down. A costume change into an outrageous black number (she got the memo) signals the excellent Black Widow, her collab with Australia’s Iggy Azalea, before new single Ask And You Shall Receive. We didn’t ask, but it’s brilliant and we’re all very happy to receive! Everyone is already on board the Ora Express before her enormo-hit Hot Right Now gets Mighty Hoopla properly jumping.

As fantastic as she is, I’m still picking up far too many casual conversations and decide to head over to the Bump for a bit of Jodie Harsh’s DJ set, hoping it’s a bit louder (sorry Rita). Jodie is loving it and as usual I’m left to marvel at her ability to absolutely boss the decks in full, flawless drag. Soon it’s back to the Pleasure Palace to catch some of B:Rave – to the uninformed, this is festival favourites Old Dirty Brasstards playing non-stop 90s dance classics. It’s as daft and fun as it sounds, i.e. very. I could happily stay for their whole set (Rozalla is set to make another cameo) but absolutely cannot miss the fabulous Jessie Ware’s headline performance, so soon I’m back across to the main stage.

Mother… has arrived. And boy does she know the brief. It’s hit after hit, starting with That! Feels Good! and then an epic run of Shake the Bottle, Ooh La La, Pearls and Begin Again before bringing the tempo down a little with ballads Hello Love, Remember Where You Are and Don’t Want To Fall In Love.

Seemingly conscious that we want to dance again, Jessie obliges by inviting out special guest, Gossip’s iconic Beth Ditto to join her onstage – dueting on a gleeful rendition of the massive Standing In The Way Of Control – and London’s biggest gay disco is truly back underway. Mother is here and she is turning it out for the crowd tonight. Freak Me Now is followed by a medley of Running, Hot N Heavy and her huge title track from 2020’s What’s Your Pleasure, complete with tongue-in-cheek dance moves – it’s a fun, fabulous bit of audience participation and perfectly poptastic. The brilliant run continues with another two hits from that same album, Spotlight and Save A Kiss, both electric. Next she’s joined by Sink The Pink and we all can all agree Beautiful People ARE everywhere, it’s true Jess.

But we’re not done yet – what other way to end London’s biggest LGBTQI party than with Mother belting out a note-perfect rendition of Cher’s 1998 classic Believe? Well, okay one more turn as Jessie treats us to last year’s party anthem Free Yourself. It’s a barnstorming finish and a perfect denouement for Mighty Hoopla Weekend.

I’ve run myself ragged but wouldn’t have it any other way – once again, Hoopla, you have outdone yourself. Stay fabulous, and see you next year.

Live review of Mighty Hoopla Festival 2024 by Sarah Kavanagh on 2nd June 2024, photography by Kalpesh Patel

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