They've taken over our music, they'll be taking over our phones later on in the year, but now partnered with Channel 4 and many others Apple have taken over our weekends by absolutely stomping through Saturday night with intimate performances at the ICA from Beardyman, Mutya Buena and Groove Armada.
There are no ticket retailers, there are no touts, these are the hottest tickets in town and you can only get them from the iTunes lottery system or competitions being held by the individual partners.
This is a festival for the fanatics, and it wasn't hard to see why when the artists hit the stage.
The night opened with a fast paced and enthusiasic performance from the
UK's current beatbox champion, Beardyman. Showing off the talents that have kept him champion for two years running, Beardyman started with just his voice and nothing else before breaking out the sampler to loop his own voice and develop more in depth tunes. Taking the crowds jesting in his stride he even took on the challenge of looping his voice to make a classical tune, we have never seen someone with such a musical mouth!
With barely time to get a drink in, ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena accompanied by her band and backing singers were already upon us, launching straight into two songs from her new album "Real Girl". Mutya got off to a bit of a nervous start with her new material which has moved significantly away from the Sugababes tried and tested recipe to a much more soulful and rich concoction. By the time she'd gotten through "Suffer For Love", she had the crowd swaying to "Naïve", "Sugar" and her cover of "Ugly" from her past friends the Sugababes. Mutya ended her set on a high with the title track of her album, Real Girl.The stars of the show, Groove Armada, decided to tease the crowd as well, with the hint of the music kicking off before they'd even hit the stage. For the few that managed to get tickets to the event Groove Armada truly delivered with Andy Cato on the keyboards and mixers and their full live band covering awesome rhythms on both the bass and lead guitars, and a number of percussion instruments.
The set was accompanied by guest appearances by MC M.A.D and the fantastic Veba on many of the songs, and Stush on "Get Down" which wasby far the biggest hit of the night and had absolutely everybody in the crowd shaking their booty at her command. Mutya also popped back up to sing "Song 4 Mutya" which is surely going to be one of the biggest songs of the summer.
We're not the type to complain at being completely blown away and Groove Armada did just that with an explosive and constant flow of music starting out with some of the more classic tracks, many of which had been tweaked just for the iTunes Music Festival, and also many of the tracks off of their most recent album Soundboy Rock.
All those that attended the night were given ten free downloads at the iTunes Music Store, so they have no excuse not to continue "shaking that ass"!
Words and photos by Rob Green