With no cover at V's Main Stage, we thought it only right and in the true spirit of things to send our Main Stage reporter to Staffs - the one with the most rain. Well, it always pisses down for Radiohead anyway...
Main Stage Staffs, Saturday 19 August
It’s already damp as bedraggled early punters trudge their way through the effects of last night’s downpour, but the clutch of teenage girls gathered down the front seem oblivious. Handsome newcomer Gavin DeGraw bounds onstage with the energy of an e-numbered toddler, but if it weren’t for his talented support troupe, his formulaic lilting would sound as exciting as a James Blunt record.
Kubb offer a similarly dull musical experience, although Collier’s warm, effeminate vocals are soothing, the attempt at a vast, soaring chorus for ‘Somebody Else’ falls face down in the mud. By the end we’re all half asleep.
Rain now firmly on the cards for the rest of the day, it’s up to The Dandy Warhols to breathe some life into the limp crowd. Courtney Taylor-Taylor surveys the assembled with an iron glare, his ego only marginally smaller than drummer Brent DoBoer’s hair as they launch into a frenetic performance which sets everyone in motion.
[r-zone1]It’s impossible to tell exactly who’s in Sugababes these days, but the bitchiest girl group in history do a sterling job of glossing over the turbulent past in this slick, polished performance. In a marked contrast to the muddy gathering, the Topshop-ed trio look especially well-groomed and sass their way through a sultry collection of their best pop anthems.
A surprise appearance from James Morrison on the back of his topping the album charts sees an impromptu couplet featuring bestseller ‘You Give Me Something’. It does little to titillate the bemused crowd who give his gentle acoustic meanderings only a smattering of applause.
[l-zone2]Hard Fi make a valiant attempt at “talking to the kids” but ultimately this tired approach fails to engage. Nevertheless, the poor man’s Arctic Monkeys try their hardest to win the crowd with the eminently danceable ‘Cash Machine’, but other than this, they’re wholly unmemorable.
[r-zone3]Although his legacy is more apparent in recent times than ever before, Paul Weller’s own enthusiasm for music seems to be on the wane in this fairly disappointing appearance. The set itself is mixed – only two appearances from Jam songs, and the crowd are visibly bored throughout.
[l-zone4]Will they? Won’t they? Although Faithless’ future is uncertain, there’s no denying they can still give one of the best performances of the weekend. Their pneumatic stage presence brings the crowd together in a single euphoric mass as they collectively scream ‘WE COME ONE!’ Even their more laid back trip hop has everyone juddering in this electrifying set.
[r-zone5]And so it comes to The Smiths, sorry, Morrissey, drawing a fairly insubstantial crowd despite the coveted top slot. Launching into ‘Panic’ it becomes clear that this is going to be yet another mish mash of the not very new and the very old. Morrissey himself looks more ancient than ever, his brown ensemble serving only to highlight the greys and add to the ever-present nostalgia. Even his politics are recycled; new single ‘In The Future When All’s Well’ jumps on the bandwagon with its Bush/Blair-mongering. Still, the public are more than happy to oblige Mr Misery as he bleats his way through a spartan back catalogue. As always it’s his ex-band’s classics that receive the strongest reception. Makes you wonder – if it weren’t for his insistent backwards-vision, would he really be headlining tonight?
Main Stage Staffs. Sunday 20 August
[r-zone1]As the sun makes a welcome appearance, orange-tinted one hit wonder Daniel Powter takes to the stage and slumbers through a long, bland, piano drone. The torture hits a peak during the closing hit as a microphone turned crowd-ward for the chorus receives a deadened silence. ‘Bad Day’? Too right.
Just when you thought bands of recent times couldn’t rip off the classics any more, out step the Dead 60’s, who remarkably haven’t been investigated for copyright abuses and proceed to play what could easily be a wealth of unreleased Clash and Specials b-sides. The magic of yesteryear works wonders on the restless horde however, and an extended ‘Riot Radio’ sees singer Matt McManamon’s wail echo Strummer’s with uncanny similarity.
It’s great to see that in the post-reshuffle of The Divine Comedy, Neil Hannon still retains a dazzling wit. There’s an element of fun throughout with their eponymous ‘National Express’ and the dedication of ‘Diva Lady’ to “the many and varied characters we saw at Chelmsford”. Endearing.
Hurrah! The sun is finally out and it’s a good job too, because The Magic Numbers aren’t nearly as good under a grey sky. Brimming with joy throughout, the supremely cheerful foursome can’t help but bring a smile to all and sundry with the soothing ‘Forever Lost’ and new single ‘Take A Chance’.
[l-zone2]In their final UK show of the year, Bloc Party find themselves in front of their biggest crowd yet. Alongside the glorious ‘Banquet’ and ‘Helicopter’ we’re treated to new tracks from the forthcoming album, highlight being the thrilling ‘Waiting for the 7.18’. Superb.
[r-zone3]An alarming number have congregated to catch Keane, and it’s made all the more confusing when their set turns out to be even more soul-destroying than their records. Chaplin might be as charismatic as ever but he can’t do anything to save this dismal offering.
[l-zone4]Robotic breakdancing? Food-based percussion? Mass puppet destruction backstage? It can only be Beck who, in easily the most amusing performance of the weekend puts earlier bands of the day to shame with his eclectic live show. Mixing his much-celebrated back catalogue with tracks from the new album and a brief covers medley, the golden-haired pixie and his wooden miniatures bring the set to a close with a deafening ‘E-Pro’.
[r-zone5]There simply isn’t an adequate way to introduce one of the most important bands in the world, and anyway, Radiohead speak for themselves. It’s been three years since their last UK festival appearance and expectations are high; the five-piece are renowned for their incredible festival outings. They are at their most spectacular tonight as they stick to the tried-and-tested approach with a formidable setlist, incorporating the epileptic ‘Paranoid Android’ and the devastating ‘Street Spirit’. We also see the welcome return of ‘Creep’ to the crowd’s utter delight, but it’s the true singalongs ‘Just’ and ‘Karma Police’ that drown out Yorke in spectacular fashion. The band are in their element here and it shows – they’re a truly cataclysmic finale to the weekend.