Monday, August 21, 2006

everything in its right place

when i am king, he will be first against the wall
....for a great big fat MWAH x

A slight tan and one torrential downpour provided the backdrop to the finale of the great british summertime, serenaded out by Morrissey warbling How Soon Is Now - yep, V festival wasn't bad at all.

Predictably, Branson's little shindig is one of the most cheesily corporate music events around:
Come and drink our piss-poor Virgin Cola!
Have an amazingly wild time sponsored by Bacardi!
Free gifts for Virgin mobile customers!
Come and throw a free Gola frisbee - such fun!
Nosh on an eco-trendy Quorn veggie meal!
Guzzle all the Carling in the world - oh! except if you're heading into the Strongbow tent to see Hayseed Dixie, in which case a big beefy bouncer makes you pour your lager into a Strongbow branded plastic glass.

hmmn. Friendly - but hey, watcha expect, kids?

Well, I expect water by the toilets so you can wash your hands, and when a festival takes place in August I expect running water in the camp site. bastards. I also expect signs to be punctuated properly - 'mens toilets' and 'Due to health and safety regulations. Bags may be searched' - moronic.

But, to be fair, V festival wins all the prizes for best toilets - cleaned regularly, well stocked with loo roll and, by the VIP area, watched over by stoned toilet attendant, Jamie - what a nice guy.

However, those crafty V villains switched the stages round this year, so you can no longer sprint between the main stage and the second stage during headliners, shooting past the 'VIP' section. Incidentally, do Big Brother contestants count as VIPs? Very Insipid Person? Still, celeb spottingremains a key sport at V Festival. This year i am proud to report that I spotted the beautiful Lauren Laverne, Alex Zane (who?, exactly) and Finn from Hollyoaks - twice. But, shock horror - no BB contestants this year. My heart is officially broken.

so, the music.


Seth Lakeman in the Virgin union tent (bleurgh) played for a far-too-short twenty minutes , drawing an impressive and well-deserved crowd for so early in the day. With a gorgeous voice that drifts into Jeff Buckley territory and virtuoso violin skills, Seth Lakeman deserves only great things - listen to Kitty Jay if you don't believe me - that's one violin you can hear...

The Divine Comedy were quite earthly really, not so divine - but certainly not hellish. They didn't play Billy Bird, though, which was disappointing.

The Magic Numbers
The first time i saw this band supporting Athlete with my sister (she's a bit obsessed with Athlete - I am emphatically not, but I'm sure they're nice boys), I was really impressed by their fluffy melodies. However, I was bored stiff by them at V festival last year. Thankfully, a few beers, a sunny day and plenty of room to groove made this a rather enjoyable, if lightweight, set - but then, that's the point.

By all accounts if this band were body language, they'd be a shrug, as that seems to be most reviewers' reaction to them. A little bit Prefab Sprout, a bit Ooberman - The Big Issue says they're a bit Beautiful South, although I believe that's taking things too far, surely. Having seen them live now, I too, shrug. I won't be buying the album: its obviously full of quite nice, mediocre tunes, sung by the guitarist, despite it being blindingly obvious that the girl on the keyboards has the better voice. And she's much cuter. ho-hum. But that still doesn't change the fact that their single Broke is shaping up to be one of the singles of the year.

Art Brut
Aww, cute. Very studenty, noisy, boisterous, but brilliant. Should do a Kaiser Chiefs next year. (i.e. blow every other band out of the water at all festivals before everybody gradually realises they only have a handful of decent tunes)
Heard from the loo, the best place for them. (er....although Bret Easton Elliswas inspired by Somewhere Only We Know when writing Lunar Park, which i have just finished and was impressed, entertained, intrigued and rather touched by, dammit.)

*big sigh* Beautiful Beck and his band, all of whom look like they have been lifted from the cover of ID, performed a set accompanied by a troupe of replica puppets (and their master puppeteers) performing a miniature copy of Beck's set. Half way through, Beck played some mellow acoustic tunes from melancholy album Sea Change as the rest of the band tucked into a silver service dinner onstage. Stupidly brilliant.


01 Airbag
02 2+2=5
03 The National Anthem
04 My Iron Lung
05 You and Whose Army?
06 Bodysnatchers
07 The Bends
08 Nude ["a new bugger." Thom]
09 No Surprises
10 The Gloaming
11 Paranoid Android ["You can take your hoodie off Jonny." Thom]
12 All I Need
13 Pyramid Song ["Glad you can appreciate a good song." Thom]
14 Lucky
15 Just
16 Idioteque
17 Street Spirit

Encore 1:
18 A Wolf At The Door
19 There There
20 Karma Police
21 True Love Waits/Everything In Its Right Place

Encore 2:
22 Creep [Thom didn't play guitar]

In my idea of heaven, not only are all my nearest and dearest around me, but John Cale reads me bedtime stories and Thom Yorke and I go dancing. I LOVE Thom Yorke dancing. I also love him standing, sitting, singing, breathing, sleeping, reading, writing, ironing etc etc etc.

Once again, Radiohead play with uncommon passion and understated grace. Perhaps not the best I've seen them, but that still puts them streets ahead of every other live band in the country. If only the drunken morons staggering and chatting throughout their set hadn't been there.... kicking, screaming gucci little piggies. ...(grumble, grumble) when i am king....


A big fat loada nothing for most of the day. I was bored by The Rifles, jaded by The Feeling, mildly distracted for two minutes by Jim Noir. Thankfully, Hayseed Dixie whipped up a hillbilly storm in the nasty Strongbow tent. I began the gig sober and left it tipsy - perfect.
Paul Weller was livened up by the interference of a man in the crowd, brandishing a plastic womble, who managed to terrify my sister by sneaking the womble onto her shoulder and performing a war dance by her ear. Unfortunately, one man and his womble proved much more entertaining than Weller, whose solo stuff is as tedious as I remember it from the mid '90s. He did, however, redeem himself with Town called Malice.

I saw Faithless years ago in the middle of the day one V festival and thought they were brilliant. Exuberant and energetic live, Faithless are very good at disguising the fact they have built a successful career from only one good song, released no less that three times to devastating effect. You'd think Sister Bliss would have figured out her keyboards could make a different sound by now, but then again, with that much cash, why bother? (to be fair, Faithless actually have two good songs, but Don't Leave hardly counts). Anyway, as a result of this, I have taken to making like Elias Canetti and watching Faithless from a distance, for better than being in the crowd for Faithless, is watching the crowd for Faithless. So many hands waving in unison, so many bodies dancing - so what if they've only got one song - these one-hit wonders know how to work the crowd. Watching them temporarily restored my faith in human nature - sure, we're a bunch of aimless sheep, but happy little sheep, with good rhythm.

Although there is something weird and a bit grubby about seeing Morrissey pimping the latest download of his next single at V festival, he was still a joy to watch. Horrifically, the crowd was thinner than it had been for The Divine Comedy during Saturday lunchtime as everybody had foolishly monged off to see Razorlight plagiarise more good songs, or shake their ass to Groove Armada (which, i must admit having done it, is fun). Still, there's no accounting for taste. Flamboyant, dry and with remarkable abs for a man approaching middle age, Morrissey met my expectations (not having seen the genius in the flesh before). Full points awarded for showmanship too, with Morrissey performing in front of a giant picture of Oscar Wilde with a band dressed purely in white suits. Quote of the weekend has to come from a friend of a friend, an english graduate who, on seeing the stage, drunkely howled, 'who's that Johnathan Ross lookalike?' Magic.

It doesn't seem fair to choose one song for the entire festival, so please allow me the indulgence of five, as follows:

5. Town Called Malice - Paul Weller
He was a bit rubbish really, but you can't argue with the Billy-Elliot-groove-inducing potency of this song.

4. The New Pollution - Beck
Although standing slapbang in front of a set of enormous bass speakers wasn't what I'd call comfortable, there is something vaguely exhilarating about feeling the ear wax vibrate inside your skull as blood trickles out of your ear and down your neck (that didn't actually happen, but if I'd given it a few more minutes I think it might have)

3. Kitty Jay - Seth Lakeman
A man who can make a lone violin sound like an orchestra. Talent in its rawest, purest form.

2. Panic - Morrissey
Minutes earlier I had vehemently chastised my sister's boyfriend for suggesting that Morrissey might play this. How pleased I was to be proved wrong when the crooner opened with this.

1. Everything in its Right Place - Radiohead
Alongside the new tracks Radiohead played, this song perfectly demonstrates how much better Radiohead's new output is post OK Computer. I think the fact that Radiohead played so many old tracks is proof of their confidence and security in their new material, as they are no longer competing against so many creepy iron lungs. I can't wait for the new album, and I can't wait to see them live again. gush gush gush

so, in short:

veggie cornish pasty - an exortionate £3.80
bottle of water - a jaw-dropping £2.00
crappy plastic lanyard - a rage-inducing £10.00

Thom Yorke dancing - PRICELESS

and for everything else, there's mastercard - and thank fuck - it's the end of the month y'know!


At 28 August, 2006 12:27 , Blogger Alexandra said...

-jaw drops-

Argh. I'd do anything to see Radiohead. You're very very lucky.

The rest of the festival sounds fun too, of course, but Radiohead would have been the highlight for me.


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