Big Day Out @ The Green 2003

Scenes at Big Day Out at the Green 2003 by Ian Kerr
Scenes at Big Day Out at the Green 2003 by Ian Kerr

If there was one star shining brighter than any other at this year's festivals, it was definitely the sun. To our amazement, we awake on Sunday morning to see our friend blazing down for what is to be another superb day of music in Scotland.

Line Up: The Distillers, Electric Six, PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers

[r-zone1]So after VF’s head got a severe tanning at T in the Park earlier this season, we take the necessary head precautions and head into the centre of Glasgow on Sunday 24th August 2003 for this year’s Big Day Out – replacing the former Gig on the Green. The line up has a familiar rocky theme to it and there isn’t one band that we’re not looking forward to seeing – the proof however as always is in the pudding. Given the plethora of other festivals taking place this Bank Holiday weekend (Reading, Leeds, Creamfields, Canterbury, Rolling Stones…), are there going to be any decent acts left to play up in Scotland? The answer is yes, a BIG DAY OUT YES!

[l-zone2]As the man in charge, Geoff Ellis (from DF Concerts), says: “2003 has been an incredible year for music in Scotland, with sold out stadium shows, the Tenth year of T in the Park, a fantastic line up at this year’s T on the Fringe and of course Big Day Out At The Green“. Naturally, the man is biased, but we’d really struggle to disagree. And today’s line-up is certainly as serious as a one-dayer gets. We were pretty excited as we push through the turnstyles…

[r-zone3]The Distillers kick things off on the massive stage, the Evel Knievels of rock. Scarred but strong, this indestructible and raucous punk band has made some career-defining jumps in its time. Having recently returned from Germany (touring with the Chilli Peppers), they show no sign of tiring as they pump out their punk anthems in the scorching afternoon sun. A satisfying blast to whet the appetite.

[l-zone4]What we need now to supplement Buckfast being downed on this glorious summer’s day, is some energetic light-hearted fun. Who better to serve this up than darlings of the 2003 festival circuit Electric 6? Maybe it’s the heat or touring fatigue, but early impressions suggest that front man Dick Valentine is not his usual crazy self.

[r-zone5]Soon, however, he’s well and truly in the swing, bellowing out out his unique brand of infectious charisma, a mic in each hand! We don#t have to wait long for the trade-mark press ups and by the time they kick into “Danger, high voltage” and the now-legendary “Gay bar”, the crowd is ecstatic. Valentine concludes, “Never in a million years did I expect to say, PJ Harvey is next”.,[r-zone1]The feminine spark on an otherwise macho bill, Polly Jean arives on-stage in a tiny micro dress which leaves little to the imagination. It’s a good entrance, received accordingly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work, mostly because we’re all young, drunk, it’s hot and we’re all rocked up. As talented an artiste as she undoubtedly is, PJ Harvey’s music is never going to get the crowd jumping, and the crowd are here to jump. She looks fantastic, though.

[l-zone2]So it’s with an explosion of relief when Queens of the Stone Age come stomping out. When they unleash ‘No One Knows’, we look round to see the whole crowd mouthing the words. This love is reciprocated by singer Josh Homme, proclaiming with eloquence: “We love Scotland. It’s full of crazy people who can drink, f#@k and party in a manner befitting the Queens”. As the afternoon sun continues to beat down, the event has moved up a gear and there’s plenty more to come…

[r-zone3]If you don’t like the Foo Fighters‘ music, you like Dave Grohl, the most universally liked man in rock. He comes from exceptionally good stock, afterall, but it’s his knack of writing immaculately catchy pop/rock tunes that sets him above the pack. Intensive touring has made the band a well-oiled live machine and songs like ‘One by One’, ‘The One’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ can’t fail to please as the sun sinks majestically towards the city sky-line.

[l-zone5]It’s a privilege to catch bands like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers live. Great live bands make the audience feel part of something special, and this band does that better than most. Guitarist extraordinaire John Frusicante kicks the show off with a funky solo, launching into ‘By the Way’. Bassist Flea is un-doubtedly one of the best and most technical players in the world, using a 5 string fretless instrument with a Wah Wah pedal to produce a mind-blowing sonic cocktail of funk and rock. Not many bassists are granted the opportunity to indulge in unacompanied solos, but in his case, it would be rude not to.

[r-zone4]Fortunately, the set is not limited to recent hits, and includes a delicious smattering from earlier albums, in particular ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magic’. Ever the show stealers, there’s little contest today as the Chilis effortlessly prove their worth as headliners drawing on superior depth, experience and showmanship to give un-forgettable end to this year’s Scottish festival season.

All in all, an excellent, well-managed festival that we can’t wait to re-visit next year…