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Little Johns Farm, Richfield Avenue, Reading, Berkshire
£192.50 for a weekend ticket - SOLD OUT, £82.50 - Friday or Saturday
daily capacity: 90,000, around half of which are day tickets
last updated: Thu 25th Aug 2011
My Saturday at Reading was ruined at it's conclusion when the main band I'd come to see, Jane's Addiction cancelled at the eleventh hour, and whilst headliners The Strokes delivered a proficient set, it was by no means the highlight of today. Instead sunset act Pulp walked away with all the plaudits, but even their set appeared to me to be flawed, and it was left to The King Blues to deliver the high energy performance of the night, and Little Roy to provide the festival moments.
Once again Reading Festival opened with rain, it came slightly later, and was more intermittent but it put a dampener (literally) on The Joy Formidable's performance as I missed all but the final guitar slaughter, and it was Yuck's gentle musicality that shook off the last remnants of the excesses of the night before, with the nearby real ale bar providing the hair of the dog. I even manage to get a free T-shirt whilst watching Castrovalva, result.
Whilst many enjoyed the folk-pop stylings of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, I wanted to see Seasick Steve joined on stage by bassist john Paul Jones and drummer Dan Magnusson. It was interesting to see the crowd was most of the older festival ticket buyers. A sign that with Pulp and Jane's Addiction on the bill there was a sizeable old school contingent, to join the neon facepainted youngsters. A terrific sun lit set begun with 'Diddley Bo', and included highlights 'Walkin' Man' where he borrowed someone's girlfriend to sing to, and 'Thunderbird' about the drink which it seems you can't buy in the UK anymore.
The Joy Formidable return to the BBC Introducing Stage for an acoustic set, and do a stripped down version of 'The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade'.
Through the rapidly drying mud to the NME/Radio 1 tent revealed where all the youngsters were, chanting "Wolf Gang!" they were waiting for OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All). The set started with DJ Syd on her own, and I start to panic that they've pulled out of today's Reading show as well as Leeds. But soon the LA hip hop collective have assembled, including Tyler, The Creator who rocks up on bike. The set is terrific, and the bass is deep as they deliver '6', 'Transylvania', 'Rolling Papers', 'French!', 'Gun Sounds', 'Sandwitches', 'igotagun', 'Radicals', and more amongst their amusing banter, and crowd surfing. Their set is one of the highlights of the weekend.
The Bronx take to the Festival Republic stage to offer us some mariachi music under their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx, and I'd like to have seen more but the draw off Madness on the main stage is too strong. Suggs and company give us many of their hits, and a few tunes we don't know so well. The well balanced set provides a winner with the crowd consisting of all ages happy to join in singing and dancing.
Back at the NME Stage Everything Everything have attracted a large crowd, although not as large as expected, and it seems numbers are down, perhaps the earlier rain has left many in the campsite drinking, that or it's down to the Ketamine, which for some crazy reason kids are still taking! Don't they know it's horse tranquiliser? Everything Everything are on form, racing through a set that starts with 'QWERTY Finger' includes 'Final Form', 'Leave The Engine Room' and the crowd pleasing 'MY KZ, UR BF'. By the sound of it Jimmy Eat World and Glassjaw are equally crowd pleasing.
Nearly all multi-stage festivals have to have band clashes, where you want to watch two bands at once, and sure enough Reading had one for me, Little Roy was up against The National. I opted to hear the first tracks of the latter - 'Anyone's Ghost', and 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' before the former's set of re-worked Nirvana classics. I'm so glad I did, the highlight of the festival weekend, he had me grinning from ear to ear as I sang Nirvana lyrics in a rocksteady reggae stylee. He starts with a reggae number to get us in the mood, and after a problem with the DJ dropping the wrong speed, I wonder if this is going to work, but much like Easy Star All Stars covers albums, it's a joy to skank along to with a set that includes 'Dive', 'On A Plain', 'Come As You Are', 'Polly', and 'Heart Shaped Box'. The arrangements see the horn section replacing Kurt's fuzzed up guitar, and it's not often you hear a trombone solo get rapturous applause at Reading. A fantastic live set, that keeps the chill wind from our bones, and sees us all happily troop off into the mud. The only downside was seeing the amount of old school fans thrown out of the sideless tent for smoking by the security.
Pulp are a crowd pleaser, there's no doubt, and in Jarvis they have a great reconteur, and 'Do You Remember the First Time?' proves a great opener, less appealing are 'Joyriders', 'Mis-Shapes', and 'Pencil Skirt', especially when it's clear no one in a hundred person radius also knows the words, and it would appear the bloke who did the trippy graphics for Top Of The Pops is handling the big screens. Jarvis also has a tendency to ramble, and this too loses some, although he makes a good point when he asks how many of us were born the last time the band played in 1994, I'm guessing most - just. It takes until 'Disco 2000', and 'Sorted For E's & Wizz' for the crowd to truly ignite, and adding Richard Hawley on guitar and a technically flawless delivery sees many fans happy.
It's worth mentioning that over in the Lock Up Itch from The King Blues was putting on one of their legendary performances for, he explained, a friend that had never seen his band live before tonight, because he'd been in prison. The set was an incredible mosh frenzy, and no doubt Itch's friend would have left impressed.
However the Jane's Addiction fans were left deflated, after the soundcheck and with the stage all set to go, Dave Navarro came out to reveal the band would not be appearing. He suggested the crowd watch The Strokes or The Bosstones and got booed. Someone asked if they could play without the throat stricken Perry, Dave thought before shaking his head and replying "No!"
So The Strokes crowd swelled by about fifty as Julian Casablancas takes to the stage, and delivers a polished but unremarkable set, that also sees Jarvis return to guest, and pep it up a bit with a cover of the Cars' 'Just What I Needed', which once again proves a lot of the crowd are too young to know the lyrics.
Day two draws to an unremarkable conclusion, and we look forward to a more thrilling end tomorrow.