Reading Festival 2010, Day 1

September 5, 2010 by  

After the deluge on Thursday, soaked up with alcohol in a Reading pub, and the worst nights sleep in a useless tent with the rain lashing down seemingly forever, at the very least it was our spirits that weren’t to be dampened waking up to Friday’s mud stained potential.

Kicking things off on a miniscule stage were the mighty gaggle, Gaggle. A twenty or something strong group of women with a powerful choir sound and electro beats to lift an early afternoon crowd, and if not the clouds the Festival Republic tent’s roof, and it looked like things would be all good after all.

Wandering over to the BBC’s introducing stage can always prove a mixed bag, and the two bands seen in succession here were proof of just that. Amy’s Ghost were a dated electro pop outfit, with Michael Stipe eyeliner and nothing much else to boot – kitsch is fine but it all seemed quite pre-school drama group. Grow up.It was with some caution after seeing this we stuck around for The GANG, particularly when the warm up guys thrashed out some useless metal riffs. However, when the three vocalists came to the stage with tons of charisma and their rap/indie crossover, the building crowd went wild, with ‘System Overload’ being one to definitely check out.

Looking for something bigger it was time to head off for Readings ‘Other Stage’, the Radio 1/NME tent for a succession of Indie favourites. New guys Surfer Blood were solid, and entertained, but didn’t produce anything to set them apart from the jerky indie pop on offer already, and New Young Pony Club were indeed a one trick pony (with ‘Ice Cream’), which was a shame, as their quite decent second album didn’t shine live.

Girls didn’t improve matters. Now they weren’t that bad, and by now the weather wasn’t as bad also. Lying down listening to their laid back summer surf tunes was all well and good, but it would have possibly been a lot better in 90 degree heat on an outdoor stage, and you left thinking the whole crowd were waiting for ’Lust For Life’ after ’Summertime’.

Gogol Bordello did what they do best on the main stage. Their gypsy punk party was getting everyone linking arms and swinging round like surly Morris dancers on May Day. Or something like that. Everyone was wearing purple, yet ‘Start Wearing Purple’ was still as fresh and fun as it has always been alongside the likes of ‘American Wedding’

The biggest surprise of the day was Two Door Cinema Club, seemingly every young hipsters new favourite indie band, their calypso tainted tunes were the first to get a real crowd following and they will surely be higher up the bill next year.

Someone who was tipped to be higher up this year were The Big Pink, yet largely disappointed. Largely that is until a quite stunning finale, consisting of a haunting, powerful Otis Redding cover of ‘These Arms Of Mine’ to a setting sun and mesmerised crowd, before the obligatory ‘Dominoes’. How they pulled it out of the bag was quite spectacular.

Following up were Yeasayer, again in the Radio 1/NME tent, who whirled up a frenzy as the crowd really got their groove on, especially to the magical ‘Madder Red‘ and the party trick ‘ONE’.

The prospect of sticking with Mumford & Sons was not a likely one, so it was off to catch the quirky Adam Green, who entertained with his snake like hips and cabaret hat flipping. Once you get over his Shooting Stars ‘Club Singers Round’ type vocals, there are some brilliant tunes and awe bating sounds.

So back to the main stage for the double bill headliners. Excitement was brewing for Guns N Roses, surely they couldn’t be that bad. Up first Queens Of The Stone Age were the brooding beast they always are, a professional unit rocking out as you’d expect, and as far as Friday went, it was as good as it was going to get. For up next, over an hour late, and after at least half an hour of booing, Guns N Roses bounced on stage like we were their confessional. Yet we were a baying mob this crowd, and they were pathetic.

They were a complete shambles and put on a half baked show, reminding you that no longer are they ‘Guns N Roses’, they are the shadow of himself Axel Rose and his insipid band, with a few fancy lights and videos (some of which also failed) and found themselves performing to an emptying crowd.

After seeing Paul McCartney at Isle Of Wight, who would have thought his original version of ‘Live And Let Die’ would have shone above this monstrosity, or that alone would be better than anything on show here. They could have no complaints at being cut half way through their set when they started an hour late, and could have no complaints at being lauded then, and throughout the rest of what would still become a brilliant weekend. They were worse than rain.


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