running out of superlatives for Saturday at Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter 2012 review

By James Hyde | Published: Thu 5th Jul 2012

around the festival site (2)

Thursday 28th June to Sunday 1st July 2012
Werchter, Rotselaar, Belgium, Belgium
79 Euros - sold out
Daily capacity: 80,000
Last updated: Thu 24th May 2012

around the festival site (2)
I walked down to the Pyramid Marquee to find an enormous crowd for retro blues band Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard's husky vocals are incredibly impressive, and it's all fairly fast-paced and tuneful, but despite this I wasn't totally captivated. There's lots of potential here, though.

Along with Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling, Noah and the Whale have been at the forefront of the recent renaissance of folk music. In an age of elaboration, it's refreshing to watch a band dedicated to quiet simplicity. The hour-long set breezed by, and a pleasant finish (the blissful '5 Years' Time', feel-good anthem 'Life Goes On') merely emphasised the fact that Noah and the Whale are something special.

I hopped over to the main stage where Wolfmother were just starting. They started brilliantly with 'Woman' and finished even better with 'Joker and the Thief' but, a few half-arsed mosh pits aside, there wasn't really much memorable in between.

Next up on the main stage were Kasabian, and after a muted performance here in 2011, the Leicester lads had a point to prove. Oh boy, did they prove it. Despite playing a little too much from their newest album, 'Velociraptor', and nothing at all from the critically-celebrated 'Empire', Kasabian’s impeccable delivery ultimately makes criticism futile. Mercurial frontman Tom Meighan was at his irrepressible best, as was guitarist Serge Pizzorno, and between them they worked the audience up to fever pitch. The band's triumphant anthem 'Fire' brought an incredible set to a close. Even Tom's impromptu drunken rendition of The Beatles' classic 'She Loves You' was greeted with rapturous applause. Wow.

The quality of Saturday's acts was incredible, but the next band up, Mumford & Sons, have the potential to be the biggest and the best. With vocalist Marcus Mumford heavily bandaged and the regular bassist and drummer both missing, the West Londoners could have been forgiven if they hadn't been at their peak. As it was, there was no need to worry. Many of the audience shed a stolen tear as Marcus' rich, roaring vocals pounded over the Werchter sky. An incredibly intense set, stunningly emotive.

Could today get any better? Well, no. It couldn't. The xx turned in an undeniably okayish set but lacked the necessary pizzazz to make it anything more. Vocally it's spot-on and there are some nice moments to savour (an atmospheric 'Crystalised' being the undoubted highlight), but there was a real lack of stage presence. I left early, a bit deflated.

I was intrigued to see if Brummie band Editors proved worthy of a headline slot. They did. Tom Smith's booming vocals reverberated through the crowd as the indie rockers powered through all their most popular anthems, with 'Munich' and 'The End has a Start' taking top honours. The goosebump inducing finale 'Papillon' went off with incredible pyrotechnics- shooting flames erupting from the stage and spectacular fireworks flying into the air. Editors had showed everyone how to close a headlining performance. Actually, Editors had showed everyone how to headline.

As if it couldn't get any better, Drum and Bass duo Chase & Status then took to the stage and produced a terrific hour-long set. 'No Problem', 'Eastern Jam' and 'Hypest Hype' got the gig off to an unbelievable start, and it just never let up. What a day.

around the festival site (1)
review by: James Hyde

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