Snow Patrol bring an Oasis free second day of V Chelmsford to a euphoric close

V Festival (Chelmsford) 2009 review

published: Fri 4th Sep 2009

Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23rd August 2009
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ, England MAP
£152.50 w/e with camping, £132.50 no camping - SOLD OUT
last updated: Wed 12th Aug 2009

V has long been derided for being unimaginative, but today's V Stage line-up seemed precision engineered to cause as little offense as possible. Opening with Bjorn Again, it offered the middle aged mothers something to sing along to in the Sunday morning sunshine whilst the rest of us recovered from the night before.

With the Abba-centric pleasantries out of the way, Ocean Colour Scene brought their mid-90's Wellerisms to Chelmsford and the huge crowd proved just how little else was going on at the time. In all fairness to them, they delivered an accomplished enough set which included 'The Riverboat Song', 'The Day We Caught The Train' and 'Profit in Peace', but one has to wonder just how Simon Fowler and company are managing to turn out the same old material year after year.

Younger but just as unchallenging, James Morrison followed OCS, and his laid back repertoire of soulful love songs delighted the mums who thought their day had ended when pretend-Abba had left the stage. There is no doubting that Morrison as a great voice, and with material including 'You Give Me Something', 'Broken Strings' and 'You Make It Real' he is perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons such as this, but by now the saccharine sweetness of the morning was starting to get just a little cloying, and the need for something edgier was distinctly apparent. Ironically that edge was delivered by a band on the comeback trail, and who were the most exciting thing on the bill today.

James arrived onto a stage decked in inflatable stars and flowers, and proceeded to show just why they still hold a special place in the hearts of the British music loving public. Tim Booth was on incendiary form, his voice soaring across the expansive fields of Hylands Park as he belted out the band's startling array of hits. 'Lose Control' and 'Sit Down' predictably received rapturous adulations, but it was set closer 'Laid' which provided the real highlight of the perfect summer's day set. The atmosphere was the pure essence of what festivals should be about, and the resulting reception, given the stale delivery thus far today, should ensure that the V organisers think more carefully about their programme in the future.

By now, word was starting to spread that Oasis, tonight's headliners, had cancelled due to illness. Somewhat strangely, the looks of disappointment were few and far between, with most people seemingly unsurprised at the news. Fellow Lancastrians Elbow took to the stage and confirmed the news, before launching into a career defining set which, in a very different way, was on a par with yesterday's exemplary set from Pendulum. Since winning the Mercury Prize, Guy Garvey and company have seemed unstoppable, and the upsurge in their onstage confidence is mesmerising. From 'Grounds For Divorce' through to 'One Day Like This' the band delivered a definitive, career spanning set which thrilled the immense V Stage crowd, setting the stage perfectly for tonight's de facto headliners, but not before sections of the crowd could be heard commenting on the 'new song' which happened to be 2005 single and old-fan favourite 'Leaders of the Free World'.

So, with Oasis out of the equation, the burden of headlining fell onto the shoulders of constant britpop nearly-men Snow Patrol, and the immense crowd which greeted them would suggest that goodwill was on their side. Opening with the wonderful 'If There's A Rocket Tie Me To It', before diving headlong into the more well known material including 'Chocolate', 'Spitting Games' and 'Hands Open', Gary Lightbody could not have looked happier.

During the wonderful 'Set The Fire To The Third Bar', the band were joined onstage by the astoundingly talented Miriam Kaufmann, who delivered what may have been the performance of Snow Patrol's set tonight, her voice simply mesmerising during this most beautiful of songs. By now the crowd were very much on-side, and by the time we got to 'Take Back The City' and set-proper closer 'Open Your Eyes', the cancellation was all but forgotten, carried away on a wave of euphoric glory.

In tribute to tonight's fallen headliners, Snow Patrol opened their encore with 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova' in tribute to tonight's fallen headliners, before closing their show with the awesome 'Tiny Little Fractures' and a delicate take on 'You're All I Have' which warmed even the coldest of Chelmsford hearts, Snow Patrol by now had proven just what they could do when given the opportunity. Just like Pulp profiting from the demise of the Stone Roses, Snow Patrol may just have proven that they can take the step up, and take their rightful place at the very top of the British music hierarchy.
review by: Tommy Jackson

Saturday 22nd to Sunday 23rd August 2009
Hylands Park, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 8WQ, England MAP
£152.50 w/e with camping, £132.50 no camping - SOLD OUT
last updated: Wed 12th Aug 2009

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