Calvin Harris keeps the best until last at Watergate Bay

Relentless Boardmasters 2009 review

published: Wed 12th Aug 2009

Calvin Harris

Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th August 2009
Watergate Bay, nr Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4AN, England MAP
£54.99 adult ticket for both days, £14.99 per beach session
daily capacity: 12500
last updated: Wed 5th Aug 2009

Watching a Calvin Harris gig is a lot like going to a pretty crap party and waiting around until the end in the hope that someone you like will turn up with a bottle of absinthe and some good tunes.

Calvin Harris
While much of the Scottish pop-trance solo artist's material is pretty dour, radio-friendly pap, 'I'm Not Alone', a number one single earlier this year which spawned a spate of excellent remixes from the likes of Tiesto, is one of the most celebratory, hands-in-the-air releases of this summer.

And, of course recognising this fact, Harris keeps his biggest gun firmly in the holster until the last song of his set, ensuring that we have to endure the awful, corny narcissism of 'The Girls' and a handful of pretty mediocre disco workouts built on similar ascending then descending keyboard riffs as his finest piece of work.

Traditional opener 'Disco Heat' has a fuzzy, infectious electronic bassline, which rumbles through the floor and has a large crowd merrily dancing away, but offers little beyond that, while 'Ready For The Weekend' is a fairly awful slice of kitsch, camp vocoder-infused disco pop, with a gospel-house female vocal sample blasting out through its chorus.

After seeing Harris perform 'Acceptable In The 80s' twice so far this summer, I'm still not entirely sure whether or not it's intended to be a spoof, so close does it sail to Flight Of the Conchords doing David Bowie.

Calvin Harris
Despite the sickly and largely innocuous nature of the bulk of his set, Harris has clearly picked up a large and fairly wide-ranging fanbase, as he keeps a foot in so many different camps. His set is undeniably accessible pop, flirts heavily with disco and plants a flag in trance territory.

And so, after 40 minutes of feeling pretty bored and underwhelmed by it all, the inevitable moment happens as 'I'm Not Alone' is wheeled out to close the set. It is, of course, fantastic, massive and crazily infectious, from its reflective, downbeat vocal beginnings, which break into that euphoric trance synth riff that sweeps the song skywards to a position the rest of his performance has never threatened to get close to.

Laying down the challenge "Can you stay up for the weekend 'til next year?" before exploding majestically into life, it brings smiles to thousands of faces as soon as the riff is powered out of Harris' synth and represents the perfect platform for the The Streets to take the stage for their headline performance next. If only he could write some more songs this powerful, emotive and glorious.
review by: Gary Walker

photos by: Steve Palmer

Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th August 2009
Watergate Bay, nr Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4AN, England MAP
£54.99 adult ticket for both days, £14.99 per beach session
daily capacity: 12500
last updated: Wed 5th Aug 2009


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