Live Music + Gig Reviews

V Festival 2004, Day 1 @ Weston Park, Staffordshire

21 August 2004

The British festival season, much like the summer, was rapidly approaching its climax. By next weekend the Carling Weekend, Creamfields, TDK Cross Central and The Secret Garden would be over, leaving the annual Bloodstock, a few smaller local get-togethers and the Bestival to cap a memorable year where the festivals and the punters collectively “never had it so good”.

“Jeeeesus!!!!!!!” I yelp in a violent lurch forward as our driver brakes for an oncoming car. My friends successfully prevent me going through the driver/passenger glass divide. Thought swiftly returns to the present for the penultimate weekend of the major festivals. Squinting into the warm morning sun as we race past violet fields and hay stacks was a wonderful feeling; that pre-emptive buzz before a tent is seen or stage heard. It also helps with the comforting thought that in seven hours you’ll be standing for the Pixies

“Stafford!!! Are you fucking high yet?!” inquires Tom Meighan. At 12.30 on a Saturday afternoon? Though I have yet to see anyone running away from 20 foot yeties as a side effect of the mushroom stands, 3 cups of Budweiser are steadily being washed down, and they make a good partner, especially with the racket Kasabian make. Granted it’s not half their fault – the stage sound is abysmal. Meighan ignores the technicalities and remains animated throughout, with Club Foot and LSF lifting the masses.

An hour later and a cool breeze is blowing by the V Stage. Jamie Cullum is doing his best interpretation of N*E*R*D‘s Frontin’. It actually goes down quite well, and Cullum’s chilled take on Radiohead‘s High And Dry fairs even better. He then tempts fate and murders Singing In The Rain.

musicOMH recently tracked eight members of Goldie Lookin’ Chain, but there’s closer to double that on the NME stage. You’ve got to hand it to GLC, they know how to put on a show. I’ll give ’em extra marks for the time spent working out their moves and learning their interchanging verses. Will the next novelty act please stand up, please stand up?

The immense turnout for Snow Patrol on the V Stage is summed up by Gary Lightbody’s gawping smile. It is a monumental step up from their Starfighter Pilot days (which remains shelved). Despite my misgivings about them, Chocolate melted out of the PA perfectly, etching one of those ‘festival moments’ as the peak afternoon sun baked the field dry.

Fountains Of Wayne geeked it out for a drab half hour before The Zutons raked in a huge crowd on the NME stage. The gonzo scousers’ impressionable set should ensure a further few units of debut album Who Killed the Zutons? are snapped up.

With some variation, the Scissor Sisters have been entertaining the same set for nearly nine months. Demand remains at a premium both here and overseas. Despite a gruelling tour schedule, the Sisters once again don’t disappoint, with another mega crowd sucked in. Naturally there’s a DJ set later on too…

The most overrated band in the world have come to add to the partee at Weston Park. I sink a burger and wash off some more booze as N*E*R*D bring their ‘coolness’ to the V Stage. Wow, look at them and all their purty effects! Wow, look at them – they can play their instruments! Wow, Pharrell’s got his top off to Lapdance! I check the time: 33 minutes till the Pixies and no cigarettes left…

Everyone has their list. You know, the one where your mate asks “Who would you most like to see live?”. We discussed it in college about six years ago. The voting was unanimous on the Pixies. “Shame”, we thought, and headed off to lessons. How times change. After an endless wait, mass euphoria grips the V Stage field as Joey Santiago and David Lovering creep onstage. Frank Black follows, accompanied by a grinning Kim Deal. Going through a set-list is pretty pointless: It was pure magic. If I had to pick a moment it was Hey!. I’d been dying to see that one live.

Julian Casablancas is drunk and makes no effort to hide it. He mumbles and drawls between songs. He smokes furiously. He is dressed like a beatnik, and sheathed by thick sunglasses. But Lou Reed he ain’t, and he commits sacrilege by joking “I like the Pixies…from my trailer!”. He also makes a subtle dig at Dido. His band mates appear stunned, with Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr sporting the “You’re wrecked, please don’t embarrass me” look. Aside from one rowdy singer, The Strokes are on storming form tonight – the best I’ve seen them from the three previous occasions – wading through their two albums, along with covers of Guided By Voices and The Clash. But I was still suffering from PPS (Post Pixies Syndrome) and this felt more like a comedown than a headline show. However, The Strokes’ pulling power is not to be underestimated, as they proved tonight.

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