The eleventh annual Melt! Festival begins quietly. Surrounded by three huge stationary shovel excavators in what is essentially a mine, the music doesn’t get going until early evening with local indie darlings Fotos kicking off the main stage’s proceedings with their softly tinged indie-folk. It’s pleasant enough but over on the tiny Gemini stage, Late Of The Pier are getting a rapturous reception from the early arrivals. Heartbeat is a wondrous three minutes of wonderment, while the rest of the set never stops the crowd from jumping on the unstable wooden panelling below, similar to that of a bouncy castle.
It’s a similar story for The Teenagers, vocalist Michael Szpiner rarely stays onstage throughout and a vicious rendition of Fuck Nicole sounds genuinely tremendous. Quality control certainly takes a dip at times but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
Adam Green has had somewhat of a mini-resurgence of late, having sparked up interest for his old band the Moldy Peaches following the movie Juno, the large crowd that greet him on the main stage see him on fine form. Backed with a full band, including strings, he races through a selection of his back catalogue from the sublime Gemstones to the fun-poking Jessica, he attracts one of the biggest audiences of the day even if he doesn’t seem hugely happy about it.
Over to the Big Wheel stage, displaying the best in minimal techno throughout the weekend, Burger/Voigt deliver a set of infectious Trance, slipping in the odd sample including Roxy Music. Unfortunately the heavens begin to open for the first of sadly many rain storms of the weekend. This does little to deter the pocket of fans who continue to dance at the foot of the stage and the duo seem genuinely touched that people stuck around, bowing and blowing kisses as they exit from a triumphant display.
Suparmayer follow immediately after but it’s a far less riveting affair so it’s back to Gemini tent in order to see Stuart Price’s electro-posters-who-were-popular-for-five-minutes-once Zoot Woman. Much to this reviewer’s surprise, the set is a delight and suggests third album THings Are What They Used To Be may be work investigating further after all. Who knew?
The heavens are still pouring, and there’s no sign of Kate Nash on the main stage so an attempt to see Why? in the indoor Melt! Klub stage is made. It’s a massive failure as everybody hunts for shelter, but at least it sealed the large crowd that Yoni and co massively deserve.
Less lucky are fans of Hercules And Love Affair. Having heard reports of a no-show after punters had been left waiting for an hour, we decide to watch Brazil’s Gui Boratto back at the Big Wheel. With the weather calmed down, this is a massive party and tracks from his Chromphobia LP are greeted with shrieks of delight.
It’s a jog over to the main stage again to see the second half of dEUS playing to a disappointingly thin crowd. The band are on fine form though, mainly consisting of tracks from latest album Vantage Point, the set deserved far more attention than this. A rousing Suds & Soad to finish proceedings underlines the fact that those not here to witness this performance missed a musical delicacy.
Miss Kitten has gained some pounds and seemingly a stage presence to boost. Having only seen her be stiff and difficult in the live spectrum, tonight herself and The Hacker strut through classic Frank Sinatra convincingly enough to make it sound as exciting as it did upon release all those years ago. It’s a case of peaking too early though, as the latter part of the set (including a mind-boggling cover of Suspicious Minds) drives us away early.
Pushing towards 3am now and Modeselektor supply more mash-up goodness to keep the party crowd dancing till dawn, whilst Editors retain their title of most confusingly-popular band in existence.
Ellen Allien was never going to go down badly at this festival and rightly so, with the dark moodiness of her latest record SOOL translating brilliantly in the near-dawn night air. She’s all smiles too, waving and grinning to the crowd throughout and looking like she’s thoroughly enjoying herself.
Running an hour late, Robyn it is decided, shall be our Friday night closer. It’s a mixed bag where at moments are brilliant (With Every Hearbeat, Who’s That Girl) but at others there is quite blatant cases of miming. She’s far livelier onstage than expected though and even manages a dig at our own Beverly Knight before Keep This Fire Burning (“She did a cover of this but I think I do it better”)
By the time she departs it’s pushing 5am and despite there still being sets to come from the likes of Gus Gus and Alter Ego, we’re shattered. But tomorrow is another day and another that promises to be as eclectic as this one.