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Nelly Furtado at Mighty Hoopla 2024 review: Artists of this stature need more than 45 minutes to close a festival

'Maneater' singer Nelly opted for a dance, pop and RnB-heavy setlist at the expense of her more gloriously weird songs, writes Jamie Tabberer

3.0 rating

By Jamie Tabberer

Nelly Furtado on stage at Mighty Hoopla (Image: Luke Dyson)
Nelly Furtado on stage at Mighty Hoopla (Image: Luke Dyson)

When I found out Nelly Furtado – not exactly a UK festival mainstay, having only played Glastonbury twice – was headlining this year’s Mighty Hoopla, I was speechless. She’s quite the get. And Hoopla, despite steadily growing in popularity and esteem over the years, needed her. The novelty acts are fun, but they need balancing with big hitters. And Alesha Dixon performing as a surprise guest to a collective ‘huh?’ just doesn’t cut it for a near-£80 ticket.

Beyond that, we absolutely love Nelly here at Attitude Towers. For all our excitement and anticipation, then, we’re perplexed to report her performance left us somewhat unsatisfied. And we’re chalking that up, mainly, to brevity: in a post-Eras Tour landscape, a reported 45 minute-set just isn’t long enough for an artist of her stature. As soon as she came on, late, I was anxious the show would be over before I knew it. After the debacle with Lana Del Rey at Glastonbury, I was even worried she’d have her mic cut off. It made me uneasy throughout. And while I’m told she didn’t actually skip any songs, the lateness made it feel like she had. Certainly, key songs were omitted by forward-planned design – a problem only underlined by the perplexing order of the setlist.

‘Say It Right’ was certainly an arresting, if downbeat, opener: a defining track of the 00s, this mysteriously spacial dance track has lost none of its power in its almost-20-year lifespan. Neither has ‘Maneater’, a far more energetic choice of kicker-offer. What a slice of dance-pop-RnB perfection this is, though, and what a joy to hear the star perform a UK number one with such ferocity on UK soil.

Nelly Furtado against a fiery background
Nelly performed hits like ‘Say It Right and ‘Maneater’ (Image: Luke Dyson)

Next up, the movingly melancholic ‘All Good Things (Come To An End)’, the highlight of the whole festival. It cast a spell of stillness across the crowd, built on by the transcendent, one-of-a-kind masterpiece ‘I’m Like a Bird’. Both songs showcase Nelly’s voice as its most fluttery, unconventional and indeed bird-like, a quality sometimes bulldozed and flattened into submission her all-conquering dance tracks from Loose onwards.

Indeed, some of this reviewer’s favourite Nelly songs are from her underrated second album Folklore – ‘Powerless (Say What You Want)’ and ‘Try’ weren’t hits, but are heavy with wisdom, soul and musicianship – so it’s galling that such weird, folksy gems are overlooked in favour of inert monoliths like ‘Give It To Me’, the most shallow of all her club-orientated collabs with Timbaland. (We blame Justin Timberlake). At least the crowd knew the words; it was preceded by a string of no less that five songs barely known to UK audiences, the peppy acoustics of ‘Sticks and Stones’ sadly not among them. Most served those same repetitive nightclub vibes which Nelly occasionally lacked the energy to deliver convincingly. These over ‘Turn Off the Light’ – seriously?!

The potent pop-hip hop-RnB concoction of ‘Promiscuous’, at least, was a sensible choice of closer. But overall, the set didn’t accurately represent the versatility of the artist we know and love. We’re now desperate to know what she’d do with 90 minutes or two hours. She’s a bird – let her fly!

Attitude attended Mighty Hoopla with minus 196. To find out more about minus 196, please visit, and follow @minus196uk on social media for the latest updates.