If variety is the spice of life, then in terms of diversity, Roskilde Festival 2011 is practically Sanjeev Kapoor’s seasoning rack. Take the food for starters: they’ve got everything here from sushi to the more traditional Danish dish of stegt flaesk med persillesovs og rodbeder. Nice, eh?
But VF want our ears as full as our bellies. Luckily the musical caterers are on hand as well, serving up everything from folk and pop to hard underground gangtsas and metal.
It’s festival heavyweights Iron Maiden (5/10) who serve up a slab of cold nostalgia first. It’s hard and it’s loud, but it’s still the tracks that made them almost three decades ago that triumph. ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and ‘The Number Of The Beast’ have the phlegm-growling greatness that shaped the group’s spirit as the familiar refrains of ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ signal job done.
Arctic Monkeys (8/10) are suffering from a similar dilemma of setlist balance. The indie pop impudence that set them up still works its magic on ‘The View From The Afternoon’ and ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ while the grungier goods of ‘Humbug’ are tailed back. It’s Alex Turner’s charisma that sees them through with the brilliance of ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ and a beautiful closer of ‘505’ that makes this show amazing, but keeps it grounded.
The Sheffield lads of course took many of their early cues from The Strokes (5/10). Five albums of material down and the Julian Casablancas clan show tonight that they can still epitomise the leather jacket kind of cool whilst finally adding a chance of pace and taste to their chugging indie.
Much of ‘This Is It’ is the favourable choice for fans tonight as they run through a 20-track performance but it’s ‘Under The Cover Of Darkness’ and ‘Gratisfaction’ give the show a Roxy Music-type of buoyancy. Still they play with the edge of a band that could still be testing the water in a New York toilet venue, just with added attitude.
Someone not afraid to change her sound, style or appearance is PJ Harvey (9/10). Building today’s set around her monumental album ‘Let England Shake’, she literally saunters onstage almost unnoticed in a white-patched, ankle-length dress. She’s literally a glow in the dim light of the festival tent.
The title track (and set opener) is a bellowing battle cry, while ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ and ‘All And Everyone’ shimmer in all their glory with an echoing autoharp sprinkling its magic throughout.
It’s not just PJ Harvey, but the whole of Roskilde Festival 2011 is enchanting. Whether it’s the innovative art and installations dotted around the site, the cinema, skate park and palm readings or, of course, the music, the Danish event excels in entertaining.
– By Soren Bigum.