It’s been a year of waiting but here is the first of my posts from this year’s Reading Festival. Thankfully the rain had stopped but it had left parts of the festival site looking a little like the First World War trenches, my sympathies certainly extend to many of the more unlucky campers, presumably those who arrived last. Personally I ‘don’t do’ camping and will be staying at my good friend Nicks during the whole event.
We finally got through the gates just after noon and managed to catch a very brief glimpse of a band I had hoped to see purely because they have an excellent name; Wot Gorilla? I didn’t see enough to say much about them sadly, but they seemed ok. Next up we saw Crazy Arm, a tight, strong band very much in a rock mould. Harlem were next and again it was a brief glimpse, but I would suggest that these guys know how to party. A local band appearing on the BBC Introducing Stage had been recommended to us by BBC Radio Berkshire; Amy’s Ghost they were superb. Shades of Kate Bush and Florence (off of Florence and the Machine) influences among others, also very theatrical. I even bought their album from the delightful singer who stayed around to talk to fans until the Beeb told her she had to leave.
New Young Pony Club, were accomplished with a great rapport with their audience. We watched them play a couple of songs in our bid to see as many bands as possible in a day. I would say very much destined for a reasonable career, sound as a pound I would say! Billy Talent were next on the Main Stage; very punk, very loud and they mean it maaaan! After this it was a more chilled sound with Girls who are from San Francisco, but maybe the flowers on the mic stand gave that away. A good band though even if the singer/ stroke guitarist did adopt a one-legged flamingo pose occasionally a little like Ian Anderson off of Jethro Tull. We’re Only Afraid Of NYC were quite reasonable, but we only caught a brief glimpse before heading to the Main Stage again for Gogol Bordello, probably my favourite band of the day. This is the third time I have seen them at Reading and once again they were brilliant. This is truly a superb band that knows their audience and knows how to have a great time. I hadn’t realised quite how cosmopolitan they were either, including members from Russia, Ethiopia, USA, Ecuador and Scotland to name but a few.
Sketches met while at Leeds University and know how to really funk things up; I reckon they’d be great in a small sweaty venue. We only saw a short part of Pulled Apart By Horses set, but I think I may have to check them out on-line when I get home; these boys know their stuff and hit some excellent riffs. Heading past the Main Stage again we chanced upon NOFX. We only heard one song which was about assassinating George W Bush, so that makes them alright with me. Disappointedly we managed just the briefest of glimpses of Egyptian Hip Hop, but it was a good glimpse and I will certainly be exploring them more on-line. You have to love a band with that name, who are neither Egyptian (at least I don’t think so) or Hip Hop (well they didn’t sound it anyway). Back to the Main Stage for the Lost Prophets, these boys were truly fucking ace, we were singing and jumping with the rest of the crowd, another of my favourite bands of the day.
The NME/ Radio 1 tent beckoned next for Delphic. A brilliant dance band, but I might have benefited more with a spliff beforehand, but seeing as I don’t do drugs that was never going to happen, but a great set none the less. We stayed in place for Mumford And Sons and I have never seen that tent so crowded, in fact a number of people passed out in the crush. The crowd was mental for Mumford (hey could that be another band name?) and the band played like they felt it too. I like them, but I’d probably only see them at festivals. I probably lost a few pounds in sweat from that experience too
We then went back to the Main Stage to await the arrival of Guns N Roses, well Axl Rose and some other musicians really. Boy did we wait, they were an hour late coming on and at best were like a G’n’R tribute band. The booing started way before they hit the stage and continued afterwards too. Axl had no interaction with his audience and I think his voice is shot as well. In all my years of going to Reading I have never seen an audience so small for a headliner on the Main Stage or an audience so muted in their applause and reaction. I always felt that Guns N Roses were a poor headline choice and now I’m sure I was right. You could always hear the sound of barrels being scraped and dead horses being flogged.
We actually didn’t stay for the whole of G’n’R but alternated between LCD Soundsystem in the NME/ Radio 1 Tent and Marina And The Diamonds on the Festival Republic stage. Both of these bands were very entertaining and each of them was way better than Guns N Roses. I’ve liked a lot of LCD’s output and I will be buying Marina’s album soon as well.
So now it’s time for some brief R and R before we make our assault on Day 2. In the words of Arnie, I will be back soon, ok I know he never said soon, but that’s just slightly more English and genteel isn’t it?