Saturday. “I just had a Vulcan mind melt with someone really f*(ked up,” explained Patti Smith trying to account for her fuddled guitar playing, as she fronted the main Obelisk Arena on Saturday night.
But regardless of hitches, this woman is still awesome. She has that same unmistakable voice and fire in her belly that exploded in the direction of the photographers papping her and at the techies who were drowning her in dry ice. But the crowd warmed to her huffiness and lapped her up, as she went storming on through an intense set that ended with the The Night Belongs to Lovers and the triumphant Gloria, accompanied by her long time friend and guitarist Lenny Kaye.
Following this trail blazer and rounding off the evening in the Obelisk was Mercury Music Prize 2005 winner Antony and the Johnsons, who sent soulful melancholia out into the Suffolk air.
But what really blew me away on Saturday came in the guise of French chanteuse Camille. Unpredictable and genre defining, this bilingual singer songwriter snaps quirky lyrics with electronic beats to create French pop like you have never known it. She barks, she ululates, she screams and had the crowd barking back at her and baying for an encore.
The Sunrise Tent proved to be an excellent place to chill on Saturday. They may only be in their early 20s but Air Traffic‘s expertly executed indie rock whipped up the afternoon crowds and giving them sufficient chance to seduce people into buying, their debut single Just Abuse Me/Charlotte out this week. Folk rockers Mojave 3 wowed the crowds with their infectious country tinged sound, as punters basked in the still baking 4pm sunshine.
But it was the astounding David Ford who proved to make a hot day even hotter. Already being compared to Bob Dylan for his lyrics his performance was staggering, and he threw everything he had into his soulful blend of folk and Big Band. Songs like State of the Nation and Cheer up You Miserable F**k, let loose an impassioned clatter of sounds as angry piano, pained harmonica and his heart felt sincerity pushed the crowds to a hollering fever pitch.
Fancy a poem ode to a scrotum written in Scots dialect? well neither did I till I dropped by the poetry tent presided over by the prodigiously talented Luke Wright, to catch the 1 million poet Murray Lachlan Young, perform this ode plus the now legendary Simple Everyone’s Taking Cocaine, dazzling crowds with his whimsy, aloofness and sardonic wit. The fascinating Francesca Beard, also performed tackling ideas of cultural identity and getting the audience to contemplate how they would most like to die as they lolled on the huge floor cushions that were scattered across the tent.
It also dawned on me today that there is a fine line between an intense and dramatic performance which is good and one that is a hideous spectacle. While the Guillemots fell into the former category, giving a truly exuberant performance at the Obelisk Arena, Polly Scattergood in the Sunrise Arena at lunchtime was certainly not for the faint hearted. Her pained, anguished, meandering lyrics left people agog, bemused as to why no one had thought to pull the plug on her appalling caterwauling as she squirmed behind her keyboard looking like she was trying to have sex with her stool. Slightly crazy and crashing through scales and narratives with no care for the listener, she was a rude awakening.
Dawn. It would be approaching fast for Day 3…