“Eminem’s obviously a direct descendant of Rabbie Burns”, claimed some nutter in the Daily Record.
“Don’t let that freak Manson visit Glasgow Uni’s anatomy museum!”, shrieked another.
“They both should be banned, don’t let them corrupt our youth!”, preached Christian groups.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it!!”, sang Michael Stipe, some years ago.
So we all knew everything about those two playing, thank you very much, but what with this festival malarkey, apparently there has to be lots of other bands playing before we get to see the main attraction. Oh well, bring ’em on then.
First eye-catchers of the day are those nu-metal stoners hed(pe), who kick off their mainstage slot with an effortlessly cool airing of “Killing Time”. Contrary to expectations they put on a treat of a live show, with the DJ bloke skateboarding about the place when his scratching skills aren’t required (most of the time), and lead crooner Jared working the crowd like a man possessed. Mid-set he asks us; “Do you muthafuckas want us to slow some fuckin’ shit down or d’ya want us to fuck more shit up?!”. “Er, yeah, like, the first one”, we reply. So they slow some fuckin’ shit up. And the crowd love it. Look, they even manage to jump at the same time before the heavy bits! How cute!
One of today’s highlights comes in the form of ex-Kyuss blokes and professional highlight-makers Queens of the Stone Age, who instantly put the rest of the bill to shame in a typically brutal display of genuine rawk. They narrowly fail to recreate the pure hazy brilliance of second LP ‘Rated R’ however; adopting a more nose-to-the-grindstone approach for their live show. Ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan joins his mates on-stage for a few tunes, adding a bit of extra substance to their sound and frightening the kids with his bullying stare. They finish with breakthrough single “The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret”; easily the sleaziest and best slice of casual noise heard all day, and executed with cool, insolent arrogance. Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone, indeed.
Up next are Papa Roach, who don’t really endear themselves to the crowd other than when Coby Dick runs on-stage with a saltire on one arm and the lion rampant on the other. Yes, us patriotic Scots do love a bit of cliched crowd-pleasing; it’s just a shame their set is made up of second-rate generic victim-metal.
Marilyn Manson, despite the hype, is unable to raise the standards, although he is raised on a giant platform while adorning a huge cape, thus creating the illusion of being really tall. Shocker. As you may have guessed, the music takes second stage to visuals, unlike those currently whipping up a stir over on the actual second stage; the sublime Mercury Rev. Along with QOTSA, the Rev are today’s unsung heroes, celebrating a triumphant return to form. Their sumptuous collection of modestly anthemic ear-candy is just what the doctor ordered, especially when compared to the bland shallowness of most of today’s performers.
And finally of course we have the man himself; Eminem, who is joined on-stage by his ‘kru’ D-12. They manage to play about four or five tunes, including the sagaciously titled ‘Shit on You’, before they’re forced to leave following a crush down front. After nearly an hour of circling helicopters and requests from Em’ for his fans to take a few steps back, he returns to a sorely pissed-off crowd, only to be instantly forgiven by diving straight into his masterstroke No.1 single, ‘Stan’. The crowd bawl out the chorus in the absence of Dido, and the show goes on with the emergence of two comedy inflatable ‘up-middle-finger’ hands, an audience-interactive drugs sketch (‘pop the pills!’ etc.) and a hilarious pistol-whipping intro to ‘Criminal’. But ultimately it’s a stripped-down version of his live show, and although the performance he gives is nothing if not entertaining, a combination of the delay and pre-show media razzmatazz makes for an altogether underwhelming experience.