Weston Park is a quagmire. Not quite of Glastonbury proportions – there’s no freeflowing sewage just yet – but it’s stickier than a tent full of hormonal football thugs dancing to Girls Aloud. More of which later. So what will it be – Carling or Carling? Rat’s piss or cold porridge with a used condom floating in it? Your ‘choice’.
There’s mud on the tracks, poo on the seats and rain in them there clouds. Thank fuck for Girls Aloud. For Radiohead. For Pure Reason Revolution, Oceansize and of course JD and DMs. Welcome to V.
If there’s one thing that a decade of festival going should teach you, it’s that these evil corporates like to rape you. Not in the physical sense - that would be illegal but in the fiscal sense; truly, madly, deeply. Where the likes of Glastonbury and Truck charge you fair entry fees and give you free time sheets, programmes and shuttle buses, V really does take the piss with its £7.50 shuttle service and time cards for a tenner. But you stupid people who spend the weekend whinging to the likes of us just accept it, and while you do so, it will continue. Yes.
The same can be said for the likes of Dogs and The Rifles who kick off Saturday’s proceedings on the Channel 4 Stage following the Road To V winners. It’s dross and you accept it because you’re sold it and because the nice folk at Major Label X run big ads everywhere and bribe journos to tell you it’s the new whatever. Dogs look like the ugly ones who failed at the Busted auditions. Skinny suits and sub-Rakes dross they do well but songs? Not one. The Rifles similarly and doling out the same non-descript mod-shite that’s been splashing the pavements of dirty north London these past four years. Still, between them they manage to get people dancing.
Luckily, The Dandy Warhols are on hand on the Virgin Mobile Stage to add some semblance of class to the dregs of the day. Courtney Taylor looks miserable as sin as the rain splutters across the likes ‘We Used To Be Friends’. Maybe he feels traitorous being here, after all it’s Virgin Mobile not Vodafone sponsoring the day. Things inevitably pick up as ‘Bohemian Like You’ brings in the burger munching masses collecting around the edges, and the site of Dandys’ keyboardist bouncing around brings out a brief ray of light while everyone waits for Sugababes.
Now, a friend of a friend once claimed to have received oral pleasure from a Sugababe back in the day. It could go someway to explain the distinct lack of any aural pleasure bestowed upon us today but regardless of such incidentals, Sugababes prove the first great hit of the weekend. With their UK Garage roots well and truly buried, it’s deviant, no-holds-barred pop sass silliness that only the most cretinous indie snob would dismiss. Push the fucking button indeed.
We refuse to watch Lily Allen on account of her reminding us of that pig-like Stacey from Eastenders. We end up watching something much, much worse however, as the crushing rain forces us into the JJB tent to protect our chips from getting cold. We endure Imogen Heap. It’s retard backing-tracked indie dirge sung by a lezza wth a Mohawk and a keyboard/drum machine thingie. Imagine Mel C with a synthesizer and a slightly posher accent but with one zillionth of the charisma. Apparently she’s ‘big’ on Myspace and did the theme song to the Narnia movie. Well. That was a good film wasn’t it?
Earlier in the day security had foiled our attempts to firebomb James Morrison by declaring that our bottle of petrol needed to be less than half a litre. Doh. Seeing several kids throwing their 2 litre bottles of cider over unsecured portions of the fence we applaud accordingly. Where there’s a system, there’s a way round it.
And the band that demonstrate this best at V is Oceansize. It’s frontman Mike’s 30th birthday so to celebrate they bring on another guitarist for one of the songs, making a total of four and proving that they are the only true rock band of the weekend.
Best band of the day that don’t play every song in stupid time signatures has to be Gomez who seem to have done an Embrace and returned from the dead after being dropped by Virgin. They’ve made their best album in years with new LP ‘How We Operate’ and, inside a rammed JJB tent, bring back the glorious nineties years with the now familiarly tripped out reworking of ‘Whipping Piccadilly’. Sublime.
The pop-filled prissiness of Delays seems to go down a treat, much like Rufus Wainwright, who, though devoid of his big band theatrics, still manages to be more camp than Chelmsford and Stafford put together. What? Someone’s used that already? Well get you then. A little meandering at times – such is the nature of his voice – songs like ‘Vibrate’ and ‘The Gay Messiah’ manage to retain much of their beauty and ‘The Art Teacher’ – a first person narrative from a girl in love with her art teacher - remains one of the greatest songs of the last decade. Rufus the Baptist indeed.
With the rest of the evening devoted to Weller, Moz and The Charlatans, anyone wanting to see an actual band born after 1960 is left with two choices, cockface and pals (Razorlight) or the Superdoopa Coopa Troopa Temple Clause who naturally are most angry not to be at Reading and throw all kinds of destructive rock shapes. They are wonderful and we truly regret not staying to watch all their set because watching Morrissey is like waxing tongue hair.
Despite a sprightly opening triplet feature Smiths classic ‘Panic’, 2004 smash ‘First Of The Gang To Die’ and recent single ‘You Have Killed Me’ it quickly becomes clear that old Moz has nothing else on his mind but pure old commercialism. The dreary set revolves almost entirely around his rather mediocre new record. During a midset lull which drops to new levels of dullness with b-side ‘Ganglord’ (with the immortal line ‘get back to the ghetto’ repeated over and over) only a firy closer of ‘How Soon Is Now?’ saves it from total washout. Whilst bemoaning radio stations not playing new single ‘In The Future When All’s Well’, we’re treated to big screen ads and Moz imploring us to send a £1.50 texts to help it chart. You see that Moz? Two icy cold fingers showing you the V.