Reading Festival 2012
Has the August bank holiday weekender lost its rock edge and going teenie bop?
Now most people think of Reading as the first festival they ever went to when they were 16. Looking around the crowded festival grounds, not a lot has changed in that regard. It looks as though Topman and Topshop were the unofficial sponsors but thankfully, at least the festival programmers had us over 18s in mind when it came to the line-up.
Without doubt, the biggest draw to the festival for me was seeing The Cure. They are one of the few bands who have been around for decades that are still renowned for their live shows. As festival headliners on the opening night, they played a whopping two and a half hour set that was of biblical proportions. The band sifted through their epic back catalogue with ease, delighting the crowd with favourites such as ‘Just Like Heaven,’ ‘Pictures of You’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry.’ An eerie version of ‘A Forest’ was a particular highlight; purple lights drenched the stage, dry ice obscured the band and they played with such an impassioned and menacing urgency that I had to remind myself the song was 32 years old.
The Cure last graced the Reading Festival stage 33 years ago and this seemed to have made an impact as the rather awkward Robert Smith desperately tried to address his fans between songs. “I’m not very good at talking, despite having done this for 30 years,” he mumbles while thanking the crowd. For that, you’re forgiven, Bob. For you gave us a truly spectacular and perfect set.
Other highlights of the sunny weekend included deep-throated vocalist Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees fame. Lying somewhere between Tom Waits and Neil Young in terms of distinctive voice and songwriting; Lanegan was a welcomed addition to the NME/Radio 1 tent. As were Shoreditch giants, The Horrors. Controlled noise meets soaring choruses certainly makes them an entertaining festival band. Best bit: guitarist Josh stole the show with his physical re-enactment of a mental breakdown during his solos.
Melodic, euphoric electro was a definite highlight from SBTRKT on Sunday afternoon. Aaron Jerome and co-musician hunched over their pyramid of machines looked like they were playing air hockey but it was banging beats and chiming synths all the way.
Finally, possibly one of the biggest surprises of the festival was the out-of-nowhere triumphant return of Kaiser Chiefs. Packing out the main stage with their sing-a-long favourites such as ‘Ruby,’ it felt like it was 2005 all over again and I felt (almost) as young as the other kids….