Live Music + Gig Reviews

Bestival 2010: Day 3 @ Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight

11 September 2010

After the (mercilessly brief) torrential rain of Saturday, the Bestival site is bathed with sun on Sunday, and all is right with the world. In that spirit, it’s good to see Marc Almond performing on the Main Stage in the afternoon. These days it’s customary to point out how well the former Soft Cell man is looking and sounding six years on from his near-fatal motorbike crash, and he is indeed in fine fettle. Better still, his music’s strong enough to sustain interest beyond mere curiosity value. Almond powers through some of the lesser-known songs in his vast and varied back catalogue and closes with the devastating one-two of Tainted Love and a moving Say Hello, Wave Goodbye.

Following Almond on the Main Stage are Echo & The Bunnymen. Dressed in an outfit more appropriate for an afternoon’s hill walking in the Highlands than the blazing sunshine of a festival, front man Ian McCulloch cuts an hilariously incongruous figure. That said, it would be disappointing to see the man responsible for the likes of The Cutter and The Killing Moon dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and knee-length shorts. Those selections from the indie rock canon are speckled liberally across a judiciously-chosen set from this fine, strangely underrated band.

The music of Villagers is a massively unappetising prospect on paper. A slight-framed singer-songwriter (who, gallingly, looks about 16) performs earnest folk-rock songs. But, live as they are on record, Villagers prove a much more exciting and leftfield prospect than those basic signifiers suggest. Front man Conor O’Brien’s vocals may occasionally share the quavering tendencies of fellow countrymen Damien Rice and Glen Hansard, but the music behind him continually takes unpredictable twists and turns and, occasionally, just plain rocks.

While The Prodigy blast through their battalion of old school rave classics on the main stage, Caribou offered some dance music of a rather more restrained and cerebral complexion at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Stage. That’s not to say this was a chin-stroking set: with songs drawn largely from this year’s excellent Swim album, the packed crowd dances from the start.

As darkness envelops the festival site, Fever Ray (solo project of The Knife‘s Karin Dreijer Andersson) take over Big Top. It is, frankly, a terrifying experience: Andersson sings from behind a mask bearing an expressionless visage seemingly drawn by a disturbed young child, and she’s flanked by two keyboardists wearing wrinkly, Freddie Krueger-esque masks. Together, they plod through a set of dense, portentous low-to-mid-tempo electronica. One could the question of placing this stuff in the penultimate slot on the last day of a festival, but it’s still mightily impressive.

Bringing the weekend to a close is LCD Soundsystem. Given that James Murphy’s been responsible for some of the last decade’s very best music, it would take something disastrous for this not to be brilliant. And, sure enough, packed with songs that are, variously, dumb (Drunk Girls, Daft Punk Is Playing At My House), moving (Someone Great, All My Friends) and witty (Losing My Edge), it is brilliant, and a fittingly euphoric end to a marvellous festival.

  1. Bestival 2010:
    Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

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