More than 100,000 people packed Chelmsford's Hylands Park for the weekend's V Festival, to get their annual fix of bands and beer in the Essex sunshine. And Andrew Future was one of them...
Saturday 16 August 2003
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Still distraught by the news of Kelly Osbourne's cancellation, VF trundles slowly down the dual carriageway awaiting its first beer of the day. Sadly, being in Essex, this is to be the theme for the weekend. The 'You spalt maa piyeent' brigade of fight loving David Fray fans. Ho, hum.
It's not all fat southerners though. V2003 has its fair share of northerners, and as Mick from Shack remarks on the Sunday, Liverpool is on tour. NME Stage openers, Sunderland's The Futureheads, are a more geeky looking Gang Of Four. Nu-way power sniping that goes pretty much unnoticed. Much like The Basement's watery dirge, it's all a bit too indie for V's brand stand.
What we want is someone like The Cardigans to come on and give us a good dose of breezy pop, but even they can't be arsed, and meander around their concrete dull "new material" before playing their hit, after which we all leave to go and dance to David Holmes over in JJB tent. Goldfrapp follows, and baring in mind the last time we saw her was off our heads at 3am the previous Sunday (where she closed the Benicassim festival in Spain), a docile Saturday afternoon in the sun was never going to properly do her justice.
Athlete on the other hand, seemed to revel in the sunshine. Just what the MFI masses ordered, in fact. Quite like The Hives, marking their return by slagging off The Datsuns, as if to say 'All this past-it, two-dimensional rock nonsense: we stole it first!' But it's forty-five minutes of thrills and spilt pints, as they unveil a couple of new songs and get the party seats warmed up sufficiently so that when Ash blast off with 'Girl From Mars' everyone's finally ready to go.
Ireland's finest never fail to keep their cool, and with a joyous plunge through ten years of spunk pop, they combine new songs 'Renegade Complicate', 'Orpheus' and 'Evil Eye' (the latter of which is truly masterful) with their more recent hit, 'Envy'. Charlotte, as usual, is on tip-top form. Dave Grohl is too, and thankfully his drummer, Taylor Hawkins has learned that too much sugar in his tea gives him a headache (he famously overdoed last time they played here in 2001). As good as they are, Foo Fighters do seem to have lightened up a bit too much. They've got the colour, but perhaps are bit too much out of shape. The polar opposite of Dave and co then, is surely Turin Brakes who somehow find the energy to stand up but not really move anyone. They provide a nice backdrop whilst we wander over to the Bacardi Bar though, returning just in time to see some fights break out back at Coldplay who it must be said, are slightly lacklustre.
Then again, a lacklustre Coldplay still pisses all over any other band here today, and as the familiar pulsating thud of 'Politik' sends that ever-sparkling chill down the spines of 59,995 people - (we're sure there were at least five people watching Feeder on the NME Stage), we're treated to what Chris Martin has decalred 'the death of soft rock'. There are magical moments aplenty, and even a few new songs, notable by their weakness compared to classics like 'God Put A Smile On Your Face' and the magical 'Yellow', though this is marred by the so-called vibe.
Can you seriously imagine being at Glastonbury and watching someone start swearing and getting violent because someone's got their girlfriend on their shoulders to see the festival headliners play? Well that, dear readers is the spirit of V Chelmsford today.