As 70,000 people slowly but surely unwind from another successful edition of Pinkpop, it’s time to take a look at the weekend’s 12 best performances.

12 One OK Rock
What we said: “Over on Stage 4, Pinkpop celebrated an exclusive booking: the first Japanese act to ever perform in Landgraaf. One OK Rock took to the stage in front of a packed crowd as they performed tracks from last year’s successful 35xxxv, which was produced by go-to scene producer John Feldmann. The Tokyo quartet performed a set which was perfectly structured from start to finish. Every single lick, beat and riff seemed almost pre-planned to the point where even the band’s facial expressions seemed pre-determined. Not that the robotic nature of their set mattered all too much, though – One OK Rock know how to put on a show and they do it well. Early highlight Cry Out made for an emotive moment, with the tent largely consisting of dedicated fans who travelled from far and wide to witness a Landgraaf exclusive. What’s next, Babymetal? Who knows, but what we do know is that Pinkpop can definitely do well by booking more Asian acts.”

One OK Rock. (c) Jack Parker

One OK Rock. (c) Jack Parker

11 Balthazar
What we said: “Belgian band Balthazar filled the gap between Richie and McCartney over in the Brand Bier tent, headlining the stage during their first ever appearance in Landgraaf. Set highlight Fifteen Floors truly cemented their status as one of Belgium’s biggest musical export, with the band even being cut off towards the end of their set to avoid a sound clash with McCartney. They may not be at the level of festival headliners in Holland, but they’re certainly heading in that direction faster than the speed of light.

Balthazar. (c) Jack Parker

Balthazar. (c) Jack Parker

10 Bear’s Den
What we said: “Back in the Brand Bier tent, folk outfit Bear’s Den previewed new album Red Earth & Pouring Rain to a packed crowd of all ages. The record comes out on 22 July, with the band premiering a few new tracks in Landgraaf. Compared to debut album Islands, Bear’s Den’s new music carries far more depth and structure. The sense of gravity it adds to the music in a live setting is remarkable, with the whole tent falling silent at the click of a finger. Set highlight Above the Clouds of Pompeii sent the Pinkpop crowd into a dreamy frenzy as the band successfully completed one of the summer’s first big festival sets.

Bear's Den. (c) Jack Parker

Bear’s Den. (c) Jack Parker

9 Lionel Richie
What we said: “Over on the main stage, Lionel Richie emerged to pull off a set which was nothing short of a greatest hits spectacle. Having performed the renowned legends slot at Glastonbury last year, it was up to Richie to prepare the masses for Paul McCartney a couple of hours later. His show drew heavily from his whole career, one which spans a whole solo back catalogue as well as Commodores classics. One such classic was the lilting Easy, a track which sparked the first huge sing-a-long of the set. Huge moments are what Richie does best, and it’s something which he proved well and truly during the last three songs of the show. Power ballad Hello, dance hit All Night Long and anthemic juggernaut We Are the World formed the show’s curtain call, one which culminated in some 70,000 voices all declaring, “we are the world, we are the children” at the top of their lungs. As if Lionel Richie at Pinkpop was spectacular enough, then try imagining a whole festival site singing along to his classics.

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8 Puscifer
What we said: “Maynard James Keenan-fronted project Puscifer took to the 3fm Stage not too long afterwards, performing a visually spectacular show in front of a disappointingly small crowd. Not that this is a surprise, though. Keenan may be big with his main band Tool, but Puscifer have little to no reputation in Holland for a stage headlining slot to be viable. Puscifer were also up against big shot DJ Robin Schulz, who managed to pack out the Brand Bier tent. Keenan and co. are currently touring the world in support of new record Money Shot, with the stage show incorporating live wrestling and comedic aspects which only add to Keenan’s obscure way of working.

Puscifer. (c) Jack Parker

Puscifer. (c) Jack Parker

7 Nothing But Thieves
What we said: “Nothing But Thieves followed the band over in the Brand Bier tent, performing to a packed crowd as they continued to ride the success of last year’s debut album. Set opener Itch introduced the first big anthem of the evening as Conor Mason and co. slowly but surely rolled out all the tips and tricks which they picked up from touring with Muse. Early highlight Hostage incorporated funkier elements into the mix, before a cover of Pixies classic Where Is My Mind? and show closer Ban All the Music really showed the Brand Bier tent what Nothing But Thieves were all about: anthems, balls-out rock and musical perfection. Having toured almost constantly for 18 months now, it’s a wonder that Mason’s voice is still as impeccable as it was at the beginning of last year. His voice may well be a world wonder – it’s that good. Nothing But Thieves may very well headline Pinkpop in years to come, because it’s something they’re definitely capable of.

Nothing But Thieves. (c)  Jack Parker

Nothing But Thieves. (c) Jack Parker

6 The Struts
What we said: “Over on Stage 4, The Struts managed to pull the biggest crowd of the day as their swagger-flecked Rock ‘n Roll took the Dutch fans by storm. It was the band’s first ever performance in Holland, and you could definitely sense the excitement in the air as vocalist Luke Spiller flamboyantly bounded around the stage full of energy. Comparisons to Mick Jagger certainly aren’t too far-fetched when you see what kind of onstage chemistry the band possess, with early set highlights Could’ve Been Me and Kiss This setting the scene for future world domination. Claiming that a band will achieve world domination is a tall order, however The Struts have everything that a band needs to make it as far as great forefathers The Rolling Stones and Motley Crue. Watch this space.

The Struts. (c) Jack Parker

The Struts. (c) Jack Parker

5 Parquet Courts
What we said: “Continuing the trend of successful Stage 4 performance was Brooklyn’s very own Parquet Courts, who are currently touring in support of new album Human Performance. The record presents Parquet Courts at their most relaxed, whilst still maintaining the urgency of previous releases. Onstage, the quartet are nothing short of tight musically and sarcastic in their crowd interaction. “If you’re bored then there are some stalls out there” declared guitarist Andrew Savage at one point, with co-guitarist Austin Brown occasionally having a go at the odd Dutch word. Early set highlight Dust demonstrated the band’s musical growth perfectly, with the show coming to a sudden end some 15 minutes earlier than planned. With little exchange of words the band left the stage and left the crowd in confusion, something which is as odd as it is unsurprising.

Parquet Courts. (c) Jack Parker

Parquet Courts. (c) Jack Parker

4 Harts
What we said: “Melbourne solo artist Harts opened the day in the Brand Bier tent, taking 2014’s Daydreamer and last week’s Breakthrough EP to Landgraaf for what was only his 3rd ever show on European soil. Harts, real name Darren Hart, is accompanied by a drummer onstage with the rest of the music being looped over and interspersed with one another by Hart himself. Hart’s musical resemblance to mentor Prince is uncanny, with elements of rock, funk and soulful pop all making their way into the 50-minute long set. Standout track Lovers in Bloom (which was recently classified as a Dutch radio megahit) tore through the full tent as Hart grooved his way across the stage, even playing his guitar behind his head and rolling across the floor towards the end of the set. Darren Hart is a true-born frontman, and you’re gonna have a hard time avoiding his name soon.

Harts. (c) Jack Parker

Harts. (c) Jack Parker

3 Rammstein
What we said: “The day came to a caterwauling end thanks to German metal behemoths Rammstein. The crazy sextet with a love for BDSM and sadistic elements spent over 90 minutes entertaining a crowd filled with dedicated fans which stretched across the festival site for as far as the eye could see. Set opener and new track Ramm 4 set the tone instantly with a chant of “Ja! Nein! Rammstein!” before Till Lindemann and his band tore through an extensive back catalogue which culminated in the furious Feuer Frei, majestic Sonne and hit track Du Hast. If you base judgement on production value alone, then Rammstein still come out on top. Their live show had everything you could possibly wish for, from fire-breathing all the way through to a cacophony of fireworks. Rammstein may well be one of the world’s most captivating live bands, and that isn’t without good reason.

A Rammstein fan on someone's shoulders during the show. (c) Jack Parker

A Rammstein fan on someone’s shoulders during the show. (c) Jack Parker

2 Slaves
What we said: “The timing of the rain unfortunately deterred many people from heading down to the 3fm Stage for Vintage Trouble’s spectacular blues rock, with Kent punk duo Slaves following back on Stage 4. The two-piece, consisting of Laure Vincent and Isaac Holman, released the caterwauling Are You Satisfied? last year and have been riding its success ever since. Set opener Ninety Nine instantly hit the full tent in the face with hard-hitting rhythms and menacing riffs, before the likes of fan favourites Cheer Up London, Where’s Your Car Debbie? and Sockets drew a substantial crowd of outside onlookers. By the time early single Hey showed up, it seemed almost as if chaos was about to ensue when a massive pit erupted in the centre of the crowd. Not even two minutes later Vincent put a halt to the show, with one fan having to be stretchered off by paramedics due to a nasty injury. The show was delayed for 15 minutes, with Slaves picking up exactly where they left off before ending the set on a manic rendition of The Hunter. Slaves are certainly a unique duo, with their witty sarcasm intertwining tracks and bringing a little bit of British culture to the stale surroundings of Landgraaf. “You’re already dead and it’s not that bad”, as Holman and Vincent would say.

Slaves. (c) Jack Parker

Slaves. (c) Jack Parker

1 Paul McCartney
What we said: “Taking to the stage twenty minutes late was the legend that is Sir Paul McCartney, not hesitating one bit as he and his band kicked straight into Beatles classic A Hard Day’s Night. “It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog” sang the legend, with his two-hour long show spanning a back catalogue which stretches as far back as the early 60s. Alongside Beatles classics like Obla-Di-Obla-Da, Eleanor Rigby, Love Me Do and Lady Madonna were recent Kanye West and Rihanna collaboration FourFiveSeconds, as well as a handful of tracks from his Wings heyday. He may be well into his 70s now, but McCartney still has plenty of youthful stamina within him to captivate a crowd of 70,000 people for over two hours. His live band were just as spectacular as him, only adding to the stunning production value that his show had. From fireworks and pyrotechnics all the way through to c02, rising platforms and lasers, McCartney had it all. There may have been a couple of mid-show dips throughout, but they were instantly erased when main set double-whammy closers Live and Let Die and Hey Jude were pulled out of the bag. Whereas the former encompassed all of Paul’s fantastic production elements for three thrilling minutes, the latter relied on the audience to carry the song towards a magnificent end which everyone sung along to louder than anything in Pinkpop history. Jan Smeets has previously declared McCartney as a dream headliner, and he certainly wasn’t wrong. Paul McCartney’s set may well go down as the best headline set in Pinkpop history. As he left the stage, the festival’s traditional fireworks display (ironically to the sound of All You Need is Love) took place and some 70,000 rain and mud-drenched revellers of all ages descended towards the exits for one last time as Pinkpop 2016 finally came to a close. Although it’ll be hard to beat 2014’s fantastic line-up, this year certainly did a bloody good job in putting Pinkpop back on the map once more following a slightly more disappointing 2015. Rumours are rife that Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Radiohead will hit up Landgraaf next year, which only sets the expectations even higher for Smeets and his organizing team to live up to.

Paul McCartney. (c) Jack Parker

Paul McCartney. (c) Jack Parker

Pinkpop will return next year on 3, 4 and 5 June 2017.