Live Music + Gig Reviews

Venini @ Reading Festival, Reading

28 August 1999

Silt, who had all but caused a riot at midday in the Carling Premier Tent at the Carling Premier Weekend while drinking Carling Premier, finally finished some 30 minutes late. Suddenly, rent-a-mob vanished and a different audience appeared. This lot weren’t moshing at all. One girl had a toy dog with her; one boy had glitter on his face. If you’d have asked this lot to mosh they’d have wondered if you were mispronouncing a pea preparation technique. It was time for Venini.

The roadies and techies appeared with their wires, gesturing at the sound and lighting men as they tooted, banged and parped on a variety of equipment. One techie, dressed in the customary black of the trade, seemed to be parping on an inordinate number of wind instruments. Wind instruments? Venini? What was this? He gestured at the sound man, parped, gestured again and fidgeted, his huge beard all but entangling the bewildering array of instruments before him. Suddenly, it became clear – Venini had a guest star, namely Charlie Collins, and for this gig Charlie would, for the audience’s pleasure, be making a series of noises on electric wind instruments.

Charlie was still gesturing at the sound technicians when the rest of the band appeared, save for singer Debbie Lime, who seems to delight in late entrances. When the tallest girlie indie singer in the UK finally emerged, it was to front a gig far superior to their Falcon exhibition of a month previous. It was a display of theatre as much as music, the band gelling and clearly enjoying the warm daytime atmosphere. There was, I shall admit, something of a silly thrill in photographing Debbie as she photographed the audience with her kitsch red camera during a song called Photograph, and I’ve no idea why, but with Venini it would be anally retentive to analyse why they are fun to see. When fun appears, why shoot it down in flames?

There were, at Reading, many more famous band names, many of which I managed to see, from Blur to Catatonia, from The Divine Comedy to The All Seeing I, and they were mostly well worth seeing, but Venini have something just that bit different about them – a wonderful mix of a funfair, the make-up department in Selfridges, a talent contest and… well, Roxy Music. Interesting, anyway.

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More on Venini
Venini @ Wag Club, London
Venini @ Reading Festival, Reading
Venini: “Any band with a bit of style and confidence just gets slagged off” – Interview
Venini @ Barfly, London